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"The El Clasico With Nothing to Play for" or So They Said
The game ended with 4 goals, 8 yellow cards, a red card and many arguments. Quite explosive for El Clasico with no bets.
The El Clasico has always been one of the most popular football matches involving FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the biggest football clubs on the planet. The clash is not just limited to the clubs’ contrasting football styles as it is also seen as a clash between Spain and Catalonia. With so much importance attached to the game, it has always met the expectations of football fans. Emotions run high on the pitch as tempers flare and arguments and fights ensue. This Sunday’s El Clasico had been described as a humid affair even before it started as Barcelona had already won the league while Real Madrid were cautious in their preparations for the Champions League Finals. 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 reminded the fact that Barcelona have remained unbeaten during the league and cup seasons so far and a loss would mean they would not manage to go the full season unbeaten.
But all that El Clasico talk turned to dust as Barcelona took an early lead through Luis Suarez who connected perfectly with Sergio Roberto’s cross. Real Madrid soon equalized as Cristiano Ronaldo connected with Benzema’s headed pass set up by Toni Kroos. Both teams continued to threaten each other’s goals as chances were created left and right. Ronaldo also picked up an injury which saw him hobbling for the rest of the half. By the end of the 40th minute, two Real Madrid defenders were shown yellow cards and so were Barcelona’s Messi and Saurez. But the real controversy started when the referee failed to notice Gareth Bale’s horrible challenge on Samuel Umtiti which should have earned him a straight red card.
Things quickly began to heat up as half time approached. An attack by Real Madrid on the left flank saw a clash between Marcelo and Sergio Roberto. The latter lost his cool and threw his fist into Marcelo’s face. The referee had a clear view of this clash and showed Roberto a straight red at the half time break. This meant that Barcelona had to play the entire second half, one man down.
While Barcelona were down to 10 men, Real Madrid had to substitute Ronaldo due to his injury in the first half which caused a swollen ankle. Real Madrid dominated the half but they did not manage to create many chances. Barcelona took the lead once more as Messi netted from Suarez’s pass. There was fierce protest from the Real Madrid players as Saurez fouled Varane in the run-up to the goal but away. Real Madrid struggled to find the equalizer against 10-man Barcelona and Gareth Bale scored in the 72nd minute to level the scores.
Barcelona continued to attack as a great effort from Lionel Messi was beautifully saved by Navas. Once again Messi came close to scoring as a curling shot from him ended up just wide of the post. Real Madrid were also starting to take advantage of Barcelona’s 10 men. Marcelo was brought down inside the Barcelona box but the referee again made a controversial call as Real Madrid were denied a clear penalty. After giving a clear lifeline, Barcelona continued to resist all advances from Real Madrid and hang on for dear life. Nelson Semedo came on for Coutinho to take Roberto’s position in defence, having impressed with his speed and stamina. Finally, Semedo cleared the ball with a header as the referee blew the final whistle.
Andres Iniesta’s El Clasico final burst into life early and lived up to the billing. There was applause everywhere as the Maestro took his final bow.
Despite all the controversy and poor refereeing decisions, everyone was satisfied with the result. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde later said he would have been hurt if the unbeaten run had been broken by Real Madrid, so a draw was a fair and acceptable result. As they say, even a draw means undefeated. Everyone who saw El Clasico on Sunday will agree that the players took to the field as if everything was at stake, contrary to the belief that there was nothing.
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