I don’t think anybody would have wanted Thomas Vermaelen to start the Clasico.
The eternally injured centre-half has had a very shallow presence at Barcelona, much like his final days with Arsenal.
There has never been a doubt about his ability. Even when wearing the Blaugrana, Vermaelen has usually put in stellar performances.
It’s always the post-match news that follows most games which state his injury.
0 - Barcelona have not lost any of their 15 La Liga games with Thomas Vermaelen (W12 D3). Test. pic.twitter.com/m5M5GQaPgU— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 23, 2017
Things have changed in the past few weeks, however. Vermaelen has managed to stay fit for an extended period of games, for the first time in his Barcelona career.
Vermaelen starting the Clasico was a deserved reward for the mental and physical torment he has gone through in the past few years.
He was solid and held his ground in the most competitive game in the world.
Vermaelen has proved he can survive and potentially thrive at Barcelona. If he can stay fit for the rest of the season, I might even want him to become the standard option to rotate Samuel Umtiti.
Javier Mascherano may be planning his exit but Vermaelen is only just starting to step up.