Read about all the events and news from the fiery El Clasico duel between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
There was plenty of fire in the recently concluded Clasico in a game where both sides realistically did not play for the points on offer but for honour.
This was the indeed the first ‘Clasico’ in a decade which had no bearing on the title race but the game was still played with all the usual passion and tension which makes it the most famous club fixture in Europe.
The refereeing turned out to be a big focus point as eight yellow cards were dished out with five going to Real Madrid players and three going to Barcelona, who also had Sergi Roberto sent off at the stroke of halftime.
‘Clasicos should be played like this’
While there might be plenty of contention among fans of both side, Real coach Zinedine Zidane and Barcelona forward Luis Suarez both said that it was a great game.
“This was a Clasico with nothing at stake but we saw a great game,” Zidane told reporters. “We both went out to play well and win. We both played a great game and football is always the most important thing, not the controversy.”
Zidane did not want to focus on controversies while Suarez managed to come clean on a controversial incident which led to a goal for Barca
“Clasicos should be played like this, it was a beautiful game,” Suarez said. “We wanted to win it, Sergi’s sending off damaged us, especially against a team like Real Madrid. But a draw also isn’t a bad result for us given how the game went.”
He also remarked that he fouled Raphael Varane in the build-up to Barca’s second goal.
“It’s a foul, because Varane controls the ball and I stuck my foot out into him. But the referee made his decision, sometimes for you, sometimes, against, though I was surprised he played on.”
Messi gets in on the act
The match threatened to boil over at Camp Nou, with Sergi Roberto seeing red as even Lionel Messi got in on the act.
There was plenty of coming together between the players with an incident where both Suarez and Madrid captain Ramos were handed yellows for taking their arguments too far. Ramos believed that Suarez was exaggerating the extent of his injury.
It was then that even the normally even-tempered Messi got in to the act as he slammed into Ramos which earned the Barca star a yellow card as well as both sides looked to impose themselves physically. Messi must have been reminiscing how Ramos fouled one of his friend and teammate Luis Suarez during the earlier incident when the Argentine made that tackle.
Gareth Bale was not to be left out as he cynically kicked out at Samuel Umtiti from behind and was slightly lucky to get away with just a yellow card.
Sergi Roberto Red
Sergi Roberto lashed out physically at Marcelo after the Brazilian appeared to have barged his shoulder onto the Barca right-back. Marcelo made the most out of the situation and Sergi Robeto was handed a straight red-card as he threw his hands at the Brazilian.
Roberto is usually one who is calm in nature and the incident surprised Barca coach Valverde who commented post game that he did not quite believe that the Barca player had hit out at Marcelo.
“It’s strange to me that Sergi would have hit Marcelo, I’ll have to see it again on TV,” said Valverde.
‘With VAR, Clasico would still be going on’
Valverde also added an interesting anecdote regarding the use of Technology in football. La Liga will use Video Assistant Refereeing from next season while the Serie A and the Bundesliga already uses the technology.
VAR has caused controversies of its own in recent times and the fact that it consumes time during frantic moments of the game is an issue that works against the entertainment factor in football.
Luckily, we don’t have VAR yet, or we’d still be playing,” Valverde joked in his post-match news conference.
“The referee did not know who benefited the most [from decisions], it will have to be seen on TV. It’s complicated to be a referee and we have to understand them, I come here as coach of Barca and I see everything in my favour.
“Technology is going to be good for football, but it will take time to adjust, the important thing is that the games have rhythm, at the beginning it will be complicated, but there are plays that require it.”
Both sides suffered from decisions made by the officials. After Messi’s fine individual effort had handed 10-man Barca the lead, Gareth Bale equalized with a good strike of his own before both sides were denied scoring opportunities. Suarez had scored after a fumble, a goal which would have given Barca a 3-1 lead but the goal was incorrectly called offside.
Real could have had a penalty late on as Jordi Alba fouled Marcelo in the penalty area. In between both teams had chances in this entertaining matchup and while tempers flared during the match, there were good vibes after the fierce battle.
Pictures emerged of Lionel Messi hugging Lucas Vazquez warmly after the game while he and defender Gerard Pique shared laughs with Real captain Sergio Ramos.
Zidane waits in tunnel to hug Iniesta
While the build-up to the game was somewhat tainted by Madrid’s refusal to give Barca a guard of honour, Zidane however showed his class as he waited for Barca’s outgoing legend Andres Iniesta in the tunnel after the game in order to congratulate the silky Spaniard, who played his last El Clasico.
The cameras of Movistar + captured the moment. Zidane had earlier reiterated that Iniesta deserved at least one Ballon d’or in his illustrious career playing for Barca and Spain.
With three matches left, Barca remain on course to go the entire La Liga season unbeaten. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were the last team to achieve that incredible feat back in 2002.