A Great Clasico
When Barcelona and Real Madrid meet, the world pauses, and everybody tunes in and rightfully so. Yesterday’s Clasico gave Barcelona fans everything they wanted - except a win. There were goals, penalty appeals, last ditch defending, and controversy. While the game finished 2-2, Barcelona played well enough in the second half to feel frustrated at a draw… nonetheless, the unbeaten streak continues.
Sergi Roberto – The Inconsistent
When Sergi Roberto picked up the ball on the right flank and looked up, he saw what everyone saw on their television screens. Two perfectly timed runs by Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, but unlike the fans watching the game, Roberto had the skill to perfectly pick out Luis Suarez in the middle of the penalty area to open up Barcelona’s deserved first goal. After starting the game so brilliantly, it was utterly reckless and nerving for him to hit out at Marcelo. While Marcelo certainly can be an infuriating player, Roberto must know at this point in his career that keeping his cool is pertinent. After starting the game so brilliantly, Roberto must be criticized for the inability to keep his temper and place his team in a horrible situation.
Iniesta – The Last Clasico
While there are many talking points before each Clasico, one of the bigger stories before yesterday’s Clasico was the fact that it was Andres Iniesta’s last match against Real Madrid. The Blaugranes captain seemed poised for the moment and certainly exerted some of his influence on the match, especially during the beginning 20 minutes. If not for Roberto’s red card, Iniesta might have been given more time on the pitch instead of just 60 minutes. Nevertheless, the captain signed off his career against Real Madrid with a standing ovation and rightfully so.
Valverde’s Tactics – Negative
With over 40 games under his belt this campaign; Ernesto Valverde has led Barcelona to a season with two trophies. On one hand, the gaffer has been brilliant in his ability to either win or draw games, but draws are not what Barcelona fans and players demand. Clearly, the manager distrusts both Nelson Semedo and Ousmane Dembele. Semedo again showed against Real Madrid a quality touch and pace that certainly made him one of the fastest players on the pitch. Bringing on Paco Alcacer instead of Dembele, especially when Real Madrid were pressing high up the pitch and had a high back line was infuriating. Hopefully, these two players will stay at Barcelona for the years to come because it seems as if everybody in the world can see their quality, except the manager.
While Messi didn’t exert his influence on this match as much as he has in other games throughout the campaign, his presence was certainly felt. Firstly, his goal was utter class. Without even looking up, Messi knew exactly where to beat Keylor Navas at his near post. It was absolutely invigorating to see Messi dish out justice to an arch nemesis Sergio Ramos after the defender had a bust up with Luis Suarez as well. Sometimes, we view Messi as a god who walks emotionless among the pitch, today we were reminded that the greatest player in the world still has the fire burning in his heart. From pressuring all game, to the tackle on Ramos, and the celebration of his goal, Barcelona fans’ were graced with not only his skill, but his desire as well. Visca Barca!