This article is a bit all over the place, so I apologize. The important thing is to have this post up immediately after the final whistle.
We're going to jump right into it.
- This was an unusually subdued Clasico. Entertaining? As always - but subdued, and friendlier in nature than what we're accustomed to. The circumstances of the league title - with the Champions League looming over it - surely played a huge factor in that.
Real Madrid's defensive shape was compact, and when defending, both Marcelo and Carvajal pinched centrally leaving Barcelona's wing-men with space. This simply worked. Barcelona tend to carve their ways through the middle as much as they can, and anytime the ball swung to the wings, the whites shuffled timely enough to close Barcelona down.
It is interesting that of all ways to concede to Barcelona, it was from a set piece - one of Barcelona's weakest methods of attack.
Also interesting to note that whenever this game opened up, it actually benefited Real Madrid in the sense that, it gave Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo more room. Had Real Madrid's distribution to the flanks been a bit better, Bale and Ronaldo probably would've done more damage than they did.
I did enjoy though, the fact that Real Madrid grew as the game went on. And I'll be quite honest, it was insanely difficult writing this reaction given that the team was giving Barcelona all kinds of hell towards the end of this game. Bale's disallowed goal was a farce, and Real Madrid deserved much more from this match. Oh my God, as I type this, Cristiano Ronaldo scores, I'm going nuts, and I'm not even going to edit this article.
- Right, moving on. Bravo Real Madrid - bravo!!
- Sergio Ramos had a valiant game, but his risk-taking almost cost Real Madrid three points. He should have been sent off long before he was.
- Marcelo was absolutely superb. Not only was he reliable defensively, but he created Benzema's goal. Three cheers for our Brazilian stud.
- Cristiano Ronaldo, balls bigger than Camp Nou's colossal arena. He was pretty well owned by Dani Alves all night, but man did he ever show up in clutch time as he has so many times in El Clasico.
- Keylor Navas was again, absolutely phenomenal. His saves throughout the match kept Real Madrid in this game throughout. MVP performance.
- Absolutely massive result - not because it shakes the standings in any earth-shattering way, but because it's a psychological breakthrough. Thoroughly deserved three points here. Well done Zizou!