It started as a boring, one-sided game. Well, the first El Clasico of the season started the same way so this kind of start wasn’t surprising. Barcelona was everywhere, asking questions without mercy. The domination was in full force!
Real Madrid on the other hand had nothing to show. They seemed to be on the defensive from the start. They tried to thread passes to the wings – unsuccessfully though – after everything they tried down the middle either ended up in the hands – or legs if you will – of the Catalans.
It was hard enough playing a Barcelona side that was in TOTAL control of the game and kept asking questions of Navas. So hard it was that Real Madrid rarely got the chance to have a feel of what the pitch in Barca’s 18-yard box was like in the game’s opening minutes. Dominant Catalans vs Struggling Spaniards.
But half way into the first half, Madrid started getting their rythm. They found a way to keep Messi and co. at bay and registered their first shot on target courtsey of C. Ronaldo. They started getting fouled more and getting freekicks in “good spots.” They were trying.to become the dominant ones. But the scoreline didn’t change.
All the while it was an eventful game but… you could feel the drabness of the game. Somehow, somewhere, it was there.
While all this drabness dragged on, there was time for Pepe to crack a joke for Messi to laugh to and Marcelo and Neymar found space to whisper some Brazilian gossip to each other. The Brazilian president the topic of discussion maybe.
End of 1st half. No goals.
The second half started with a Sergio Ramos elbow on Dani Alves’ mouth. But an El Clasico is incomplete without jabs and kicks and some rolling on the floor, clutching your leg. Ramos had been booked earlier so Dani made the most of it. But the ref didn’t see it. Play on.
Then came the nervy moments for Real Madrid. Defending against one cornerkick is work enough. How about defending against 3 consecutive cornerkicks? Hectic! They conceded three cornerkicks in quick succession. They couldn’t hold on and conceded the game’s first goal from the third cornerkick. Pique found space after Pepe lost him and nodded home.
Barcelona one up!
In a way, it was a wake-up call for Zidane’s men. You could tell from the way they played. But how do you play to score against a team that plays “complete football”? You risk going all out and getting caught off guard. Then you concede another goal and then more problems.
But Real Madrid had other ideas.
“Speed kills,” the popular saying goes. Well, speed was the idea. Zidane’s idea. Not a bad idea for a team whose area of strength is in their pace. A bust down the left flank of the field by Marcelo rattled the Catalans who had been in control after scoring their goal.
While the Barca defenders were still getting together, Marcelo found Kroos who tried a shot on goal. The ball deflected off a Barca defender, looped over Piquè’s head and onto Karim Benzema’s path. He finished in style, choosing an over-head kick to put the ball in the net and pull one back for Real Madrid.
Now the tables were turned. All the momentum was now with Real. The midfield was all Madrid. The flanks? Real Madrid. The MSN gang were pulling strings but the Madrid defense was holding the fort. It was like the Catalans had disappeared into their shell.
Finally, all the Madrid pressure paid off and Bale found the back of the net. Another counter-attack that paid off. But his goal was ruled out because he infringed on another player to nod the ball home.
But that didn’t discourage Zinedine Zidane’s men. They kept piling the pressure. They wanted to win the game. A draw would not be enough. If you don’t succeed at first, try, try again right?
Chance after chance came along for Madrid’s superstars one of which was CR7’s shot that hit the bar. Madrid kept coming again and again, using their speed to break on the counter.
Bale, via the flanks again – for the umpteenth time – found some space on the right, again. He crossed the ball to Ronaldo. It seemed like a bad cross. But Ronaldo controlled the ball with his chest and found the back of the net. This was in the 85th minute… after Sergio Ramos had been sent off for his second yellow card! That’s how badly they wanted to win.
Real Madrid, deservedly, won the game 1 – 2. They were the better team of the night and deserved all three points. Sweet revenge for their 0 – 4 loss last year. Real Madrid was also the team that brought an end to Barcelona’s legendary run of 39 games unbeaten.
Even sweeter revenge!
In my opinion, Madrid won the game simply because of their undying will to win. They just would not back down! In a way, they knew the game was up for the taking.
Add to that the fact that they made their chances count and you have two major reasons why Madrid beat Barcelona; two reasons apart from Bale and Casemiro.
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.