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Five talking points from Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid

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Clasico defeat for the Catalans

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Dest looks like he belongs at Barca

There’s no doubt Saturday’s result was a poor one for Barcelona, but there were a few positives to take from the defeat, particularly the performance of Sergino Dest.

The teenager was only making his fourth appearance for the club, and his first at right-back, but slotted in seamlessly and looked like he belonged in the Barca backline.

He made a brilliant double tackle to deny Casemiro and Karim Benzema in the first half, showed some great trickery in attack, and even swept up for Jordi Alba late on.

Curiously he was also sent out for the post-match interview, ahead of the more senior members of the squad, and did a pretty good job on that too. ‘I’m p*ssed we lost,’ he said, echoing the thoughts of culers all over the world.

Koeman impresses then baffles

Ronald Koeman started the day well with an impressively brave starting XI that featured teenagers Dest, Pedri and Ansu Fati, while Antoine Griezmann was left on the bench.

It’s a far cry from the ageing side that we saw last season and all three players probably deserved their places in the team going on the form they’ve shown in recent games.

Dest and Fati went on to impress again, although Pedri had a quiet game. Fati scored his fifth goal of the season and notched another record to go in his ever-growing collection.

Yet Koeman went all Quique Setien in the second half with his refusal to bring on any substitutes when the game was crying out for the introduction of fresh legs.

The Barca boss had all sorts of options but waited until the 81st minute to finally throw on Ousmane Dembele, Griezmann and Francisco Trincao in a desperate attempt to salvage something.

Martin Braithwaite then arrived with three minutes of normal time remaining, but to the surprise of absolutely no-one Koeman’s changes didn’t work. A case of too little too late from the Dutchman.

Time up for Busquets?

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-REAL MADRID Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

One player who was taken off and should have been replaced far earlier was Sergio Busquets who put in one of his worst performances for a very long time.

The midfielder was back after being rested in midweek but was all over the place. He frequently gave the ball away, took up some poor positions and struggled under pressure. He must also take some blame for the shoddy play that led to Fede Valverde’s opener.

The 32-year-old should be coming under pressure from Miralem Pjanic for his place in the starting XI, but the new signing has endured a slow start to the campaign after his arrival at the club was delayed after he tested positive for Covid. Yet on this evidence Pjanic looks destined to play former team Juve next week.

More records for awesome Ansu

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Ansu Fati picked up his Player of the Month award for September ahead of the game and went on to put in yet another impressive performance in attack.

The 17-year-old equalized just three minutes after Real Madrid has opened the scoring, tucking away Jordi Alba’s cross for his fifth of the season.

It also ensured Ansu added a couple more records to his collection:

The goal was Ansu’s fourth in La Liga in 2020-21, that’s more than every other Barcelona combined, and showed once again just what an exciting talent he is. He doesn’t even turn 18 until next Saturday.

More VAR frustration in La Liga

The turning point in Saturday’s game of course when Clement Lenglet gave away a penalty for a shirt pull on Sergio Ramos that was given by VAR.

There’s no doubt that Lenglet pulled his shirt, but the problem is television replays appeared to show Ramos foul the Barca defender first before he threw himself to the groud.

Koeman ranted about the decision after the game, and Real Betis even joined in the argument too. Who can blame them after this incredible shirt pull wasn’t given?

There’s no question it was a soft penalty for Real Madrid, and it’s not the first (or second, or third) contentious decision that’s gone in their favor already this season.

VAR seems to be coming up with inexplicable decisions on a regular basis in the Spanish top flight and this weekend was no exception either.