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Press Review: Barcelona v. Real Madrid - A Duel Between Two Great Players

Mourinho said after the game that you can't choose between them and that "I think it should be forbidden to say who the best player in the world because these two are from another planet." The press would seem to agree. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi match each other in El Clásico with two goals each. Each team now has a draw, a win and a loss each from encounters this season.

David Ramos - Getty Images

The Press

Sid Lowe of The Guardian wrote up the game as a duel between two great players.

Ronaldo, Messi; Messi, Ronaldo. First Messi responded to Ronaldo, then Ronaldo responded to Messi. You cannot keep these two down. If Real Madrid versus Barcelona is the greatest sporting rivalry on earth, it has come to be personified in two of the finest footballers there have been, men who define their clubs and this battle.

Noting that Pedro nearly scored at the death but missed, he writes:

A goal for anyone else would not have seemed right somehow.

Marca's reading of the game is identical (Messi and Ronaldo Are Made Of Gold) though they also devote space to Cristiano Ronaldo's unmatched feat of scoring in 6 consecutive meetings between the sides.

As is the same:

In the German press (to provide an example of how uniform the coverage is this morning in Europe) Der Spiegel's headline reads: Remis im Clásico: Ronaldo, Messi, Messi, Ronaldo.

Another headline, from popular (if somewhat disreputable) Bild Online: Doppelpacks Der Superstars (Brace of the Superstars).

The Players

Sergio Ramos echoed a second theme of the evening: the closing gap between the teams (who now have two draws, a win each, and a loss each on the balance sheet) and the impression most viewers had that either team could have sentenced the game and that "no one would have been surprised if we had won." He termed the draw "bittersweet" for a team that had come to win and feels it might have.

On his friend and teammate's penalty shout, our second captain appears to have taken Mourinho's line on referees (more on that below):

He is a referee who I like. Özil’s penalty seemed clear, but we are not to a team that enters into debates about referees.

In a humorous exchange with Pepe, a journalist asked him to explain his hard tackles. Pepe demanded the journalist provide an example from the game. The journalist floundered.

The Managers

The exchange with Pepe provided some additional drama. Here is Tito Vilanova:

If Pepe has said that we were theatrical then and all I can say is that you could make a film of all the kicks Pepe gave us tonight.

Since no journalist thought to ask for an example of one of Pepe's kicks or fouls we are unable to tell you if Vilanova could have provided one!

And again, on the subject of the two greatest players in the world:

It's incredible that players as good and him and Cristiano have both appeared in the same era. Cristiano would get more recognition if Leo wasn't playing now, but he's had the bad luck of playing in the same era as him.

José Mourinho said the same, and more.

I think that the world will be happy because often these matches are too tactical and finish goalless. This match had everything that people like. Those fans that are in different time zones across Europe will have been awake and enjoyed this Clasico a lot and perhaps are already asking for another one in the Cup or the Champions League, if we get through. I think it was a great match and I said so to Vilanova.

For me, the result reflects the match. I, as a coach, I enjoyed it, and I’m sure Vilanova and the players did too. I'll take this outcome. It is a true reflection of the match overall. It was tightly fought and nobody knew what the outcome was going to be until the last minute. There were opportunities to score for both teams.

He also addressed the ever-present question this week of Mesut Özil and his performance in two ways.

The first involved the playmaker's performance, along with those of the rest of the midfielders, and made reference to the decision to send in Kaká for the final 10 minutes:

Özil provided us with quality and had a great match.

He came off of the field because he was exhausted. To play against Barcelona you have to do a good job in midfield because if not it makes it impossible and the three in midfield had fantastic matches...

The second was rather cheeky, and was a reference to the penalty that might have been. The Special One was in no mood - quite obviously! - to even give the smallest hint about what he thought of the decision:

Real Madrid is a club of gentlemen you can’t speak about the referees. If there is a philosophy to follow then I have to adapt to it and in truth I like it. I'm happy because I like the club, the players, the city and the project. I arrived two years ago and there was a difference in the quality of football between Madrid and Barcelona and now, Barcelona have maintained the high level and both teams are equal. I want to keep going. There are things that can be improved on at Real Madrid, with José Mourinho and in the league. Real Madrid also think the same. I'll take a great match and a good referee, who at one moment in the match made a key mistake, like the players and I also do sometimes.

Final Note: Ronaldo's Injury

According to the club website, Cristiano Ronaldo has a sprained shoulder and will be undergoing tests over the next few hours to determine the extent of the injury.

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