On another day and with a full strength XI on the pitch, there’s not too much doubt that Barcelona would’ve wiped the floor with that Real Madrid side.
Just one goal was scant reward for the way in which the hosts dominated the majority of El Clasico, Los Blancos not even having a shot on target until Jude Bellingham’s second half pile driver levelled the scores.
Ilkay Gundogan’s moves like Jagger helped to open the scoring in the first half of what was a surprisingly absorbing Clasico, though in truth, the opener owed as much to the indecisiveness of Real Madrid’s defence as it did to Gundogan’s twinkle toes.
That shouldn’t take away from the quality of the finish, however, which was Xavi-esque.
On the day, Barca’s midfield led by example.
Xavi’s tactical tweak of putting four in midfield ensured that Bellingham in particular was unable to get the room that he’s thrived upon over the past few weeks.
In some moments, this supposed giant of the modern game looked like a little boy lost in the middle of the Estadio Lluis Companys pitch.
Gundo’s guile and experience, Balde’s raiding and Cancelo’s considered forays upfield all played a part, but it was Gavi’s incessant work ethic that was the standout performance of this Clasico.
Stood next to Bellingham, we had David vs Goliath brought to life before our very eyes, and so often throughout the 90 minutes, the young whippersnapper slayed the giant.
It was beautiful to watch, with Fermin Lopez acting as a conduit between the midfield and front two and also playing a significant part before his substitution.
Gavi was the undoubted star of the show, however.
So fearless, so brave and for once, so mature. Everything he did was executed perfectly.
The challenge on Bellingham in the penalty area was timed to perfection and was almost poetic from a Barca point of view.
What I particularly enjoyed was the way in which he didn’t shirk any responsibility.
Always showing for the ball, always ready to receive, always in the trenches and ready to go to war. His attitude and application is a lesson for youngsters everywhere.
Bellingham had to have his say of course but no blame can be attached to Gavi or goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, because no keeper in the world would’ve stopped that rocket.
The injury time tap in was a bitter pill to swallow, though regardless of the result, the manner of the overall performance should please all culers.
Considering who Barca had missing, they rattled the post twice, were a consistent threat against the supposed best team in the league and just didn’t get the rub of the green.