Both teams failed to live up to expectations in an uninspiring game…

There have been times when the entire world had proved to be fervent admirers of Spanish footballing excellence of the big giants, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Over the years, spectators had experienced maestros from both dugouts come out all guns blazing. History was made, hopes were fulfilled as both the snow white and the Blaugrana flags flew in pride. Well almost because, then Zinedine Zidane and Luis Enrique and the weekend’s El Clasico happened.

The absence of Bale deeply felt

Zidane did not include any over-confident experiment in the starting line-up against Barcelona as he went on with almost the same squad that had defeated their Madrid counterparts, Atletico with a dominating 3-0 score line on their home turf at the Vincente Calderon. However, after huge success with their 4-2-3-1 starting formation, Zidane was forced to change it in a less tactical 4-3-3 with Karim Benzema spearheading Madrid’s vanguard replacing Welshman Gareth Bale. Cristiano Ronaldo was deployed in his preferred left-wing position and Luka Modric shielded the back four while Mateo Kovacic and Isco made the long runs. Benzema wasted a handful of chances provided by Lucas Vasquez and Marcelo and Ronaldo was simply not quick enough, both of which needed the excellence of Bale in order to convert them into goals.


Sergio Ramos scored a late equalizer to earn his team a vital point.


Barcelona failed to operate their progressive play in the opposition half

As Madrid sat back comfortably in the first half, Barcelona often went up to attack but the attacks were intercepted numerous times. Andre Gomes was intercepted by Isco at least four times, every one of which would have been a key pass to an assist to Neymar. Neymar was denied any space in the 30 yards by Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane intercepted the one-twos between Neymar and Luis Suarez which nullified the Catalan’s attack. Lionel Messi failed to widen his passing range, which has been an issue for him since the beginning of this season. Even in the shorter passes, Luka Modric proved very handy to intercept those passes and press forward to Kovacic and then to Ronaldo and Benzema which resulted in the few surprise counters in the first 45 minutes.

Provided by Busquets Wasted by Messi

As Zidane’s men sat back throughout the first half, Barcelona started flooding the opposition half. Sergio Busquets did a brilliant job of distributing the ball, which was then resupplied to the MSN by Gomes and Ivan Rakitic yet Messi’s determination of central pressing forced Rakitic to widen up his positioning and link up with Neymar on the wings. Gomes pressed centrally and to Messi but was intercepted by Modric on many occasions which cut the supply lines to the Argentine. Rakitic was forced to surrender to Marcelo which also cut the supplies to Neymar. Suarez was able to receive a few through balls and made some brilliant runs. Busquets did his job extremely well but if not for some shaky movements in the final third, Barcelona could have won the game easily.

For a game that has often provided more talking points than there is time to talk about, this was surely one of the most uninspiring Clasicos for quality and tactical acumen in recent times. Sergio Ramos’ now customary late heroics lent the night some much needed drama, after a rather underwhelming game on the whole. Real will be happy with the resilient point, but the manner of the draw has left more questions than answers about Barcelona’s stuttering league campaign.


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Editorial by Punit Tripathi Khel Now Correspondent from Delhi – A sports enthusiast. Freelance writer on football and cricket. A die-hard Manchester United follower.