In a massive El Clasico match, Real Madrid blew a huge opportunity to grab La Liga by the throat. Although a draw was probably the fairest result, a Messi goal with the last kick of the game gave Barca all 3 points.
In the biggest match of Real Madrid’s season up to this point, Zidane opted to go with his usual 4-3-3. Bale started, while Nacho filled in for Pepe/Varane as they recover from their injuries. The match started with Real grabbing it by the horns. Their hard work eventually paid off with an ugly Casemiro goal half an hour in. Just minutes later, a brilliant combination by Barca resulted in their equalizer through Messi. After break, a stunning strike from Ivan Rakitic put Barca ahead midway through the half. Another red card from Sergio Ramos made matters worse for Madrid before James scored a late equalizer. With just seconds remaining Madrid mind-bogglingly pushed for a winner, and were ripped on the counter for the Winner.
Keylor Navas: 9
Incredible for Madrid tonight. Made multiple point blank saves and covered himself in glory. Maybe the best performance of the season from the Costa Rican.
Dani Carvajal: 5.5
Did well going forward, but his marking was often poor, and his stab for Messi’s equalizer wasn’t any better.
Sergio Ramos: 4
Worst player on the pitch. Real Madrid could very well have come back after going a goal down, but Ramos’ red was the deciding factor today. Not only did it badly hurt the team, but Sergio will also miss the next game as well. An unbelievably stupid challenge from the captain might just be a major contributor to another league bottle-job. Only positive contribution was a shot that hit the post before Casemiro scored the opener.
Sergio Ramos failed to win a single tackle or make an interception before being sent off in the 77th minute.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 23, 2017
Nacho Fernandez: 7
Another solid showing by the 4th-choice central defender. Did well to marshall Suarez, and made much better decisions than his partner, Ramos.
The match with Bayern has ignited a fire under Marcelo’s belly. His crosses ultimately created the opener and equalizer for Madrid. Easily Real’s most effective attacker on the day. Should have done much better on Roberto’s last second marauding run.
Casemiro having a shocker so far. He's dancing to Messi's tune and leaving gaping holes behind him.— O.Dembélé fanboy (@OmVArvind) April 23, 2017
Abysmal performance from Casemiro. Continuously sucked in by Messi deep in Barca’s possession structure, the Argentine baited the defensive midfielder into reckless challenges all match. Incredibly lucky to avoid a sending off, and was thankfully taken off by Zidane.
Luka Modric: 8
The most composed of Real Madrid’s midfield trio. Was everything that Madrid needed from him today, and even forced Ter Stegen into a great save from long-range.
Toni Kroos: 7
Did well in the center of the pitch, and helped Madrid dominate the midfield often. Completed brilliant switches of play, but his influence faded as the match wore on.
Gareth Bale: 5
Shouldn’t have started due to his injury risk. Contributed little during the time he was on before being subbed off after a half hour through injury.
Karim Benzema: 6
Helped create some good attacking moves, but in the end contributed very little.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 4.5
One of Real’s worst performers on the day. Was at times selfish in both passing and shooting, and contributed almost nothing to the team’s build-up play. Missed a sitter that was slightly behind him, but one expects Ronaldo to bury that. Completely overshadowed by Messi.
Marco Asensio (Substitute): 7
Performed well after coming on for an injured Bale. Should’ve nabbed an assist, but unfortunately Ronaldo failed to finish the chance.
Mateo Kovacic (Substitute): 4.5
Another poor performer for Real Madrid. Gave the ball away, and misplaced multiple passes. Although not an ideal situation, was even worse after Ramos went off, and like Marcelo could have done much better
James Rodriguez (Substitute): 7.5
Scored a huge equalizer for Los Blancos after coming on with just 10 minutes to play.
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi
These players had a perplexing lack of IQ after they scored the equalizer. No excuses: It's impossible to understand what they did.— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) April 23, 2017
An incredibly disappointing result for the home team. While frustrating, they have no-one to blame but themselves. Barcelona took their chances better, and came away with a massive victory. While Real is still technically in the driver’s seat with a game in hand, the psychological blow and difficult schedule will make their title conquest even more difficult.