The match ended with 4 goals, 8 yellow cards, one red card and a lot of controversy. Quite explosive for an El Clasico without stakes.
The Clasico has always been one of the most anticipated football matches with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the biggest football clubs on the planet. The clash is not limited to the contrasting football styles of the clubs, as it is also seen as a clash between Spain and Catalonia. With such importance attached to the game, it has always lived up to the expectations of football fans. Emotions run high on the pitch as spirits rise and controversy and fights ensue. This Sunday’s Clasico had been described as a wet affair even before its start, as Barcelona had already won the league while Real Madrid were cautious in preparing for the Champions League final. The fact that this was Iniesta’s last Clasico was the only reason most fans were looking forward to the football game. There were others who recalled the fact that Barcelona have remained undefeated during the league and cup season so far and that a loss would mean they would fail to remain undefeated all season.
But all that damp El Clasico talk turned to dust as Barcelona quickly took the lead thanks to Luis Suarez, who was perfectly connected with a cross from Sergio Roberto. Real Madrid quickly equalized as Cristiano Ronaldo connected with Benzema’s header pass that had been set up by Toni Kroos. Both teams continued to threaten each other’s goals as chances were created left and right. Ronaldo also suffered an injury which saw him hobble for the remainder of the half. At the end of the 40th minute, two of Real Madrid’s defenders were awarded yellow cards, as were Barcelona’s Messi and Saurez. But the real controversy began when the referee failed to notice Gareth Bale’s horrific challenge to Samuel Umtiti who should have earned him a red card.
Things quickly started to heat up as half-time approached. A Real Madrid attack on the left flank saw a clash between Marcelo and Sergio Roberto. The latter lost his temper and threw his fist in Marcelo’s face. The referee had a clear vision for this clash and showed Roberto a straight red just at the half-time break. This meant Barcelona had to play the entire second half, one man down.
With Barcelona having 10 men, Real Madrid had to replace Ronaldo due to his first half injury which caused a swollen ankle. Real Madrid dominated at half-time but couldn’t create many chances. Barcelona took the lead again as Messi scored on Suarez’s pass. There was a fierce protest from Real Madrid players as Saurez fouled Varane before the goal but got away with it. Real Madrid struggled to equalize against a 10-man Barcelona and it was Gareth Bale who closed it in the 72nd minute to tie the score.
Barcelona continued to attack as a super effort from Lionel Messi was beautifully saved by Navas. Messi finished close to scoring again as a curling shot from him ended right off the post. Real Madrid were also starting to take advantage of 10-man Barcelona. Marcelo was brought back into Barcelona’s box but the referee again made a controversial appeal with Real Madrid being denied a clear penalty. Barcelona, having given a clear lifeline, have continued to resist all of Real Madrid’s advances and hold on to their dear life. Nelson Semedo brought Coutinho to take Roberto’s place in defense, impressed with his speed and endurance. Finally, Semedo cleared the ball with a header as the referee blew the final whistle.
Andres Iniesta’s El Clasico final had exploded in life very early on and lived up to the bill. There was applause everywhere and the Maestro took his last salute.
Despite all the controversy and bad refereeing decisions, everyone was satisfied with the result. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde then exclaimed that it would have hurt if the unbeaten streak had been interrupted by Real Madrid, so a draw was a fair and acceptable result. As they say, even a draw means undefeated. Anyone who has seen Sunday’s Clasico will agree that the players took to the pitch as if everything was at stake, contrary to the belief that nothing was.