A classic Clásico that leaves Real Madrid as provisional leaders and Barcelona in a rage with VAR, where rather than the normal over-zealous chicken sexer we had a porcelain cat (from the Spanish phrase ‘to see less than a porcelain cat’ i.e. nothing). The controversial moment was a stupid, unnecessary tug from Mendy on Braithwaite, with the score at 2-1, and Barça hunting for the draw. Koeman was livid, because he thought he was going to get the goal his side deserved and which they could have had with Ilaix’s effort off the bar in the game’s final breath. In an amazing Clásico, VAR failed again. Piqué made the most of it to head out to the pitch at the final whistle and give referee Gil Manzano an earful, who put up with it.
Real Madrd’s fine first half
Real Madrid’s win was earned in the first half, where everything went as Zidane had planned it. Madrid waited for Barça, whose last line of defence was made up of just three men, and attacked down the flanks. Vinicius was a whirlwind, as was Lucas Vázquez alongside Valverde, who was in Asensio’s normal position. They were behind Madrid’s two goals, a tremendous shot off the post and a few chances more. But when Lucas Vázquez went down injured in the 40th minute things got difficult. Odriozola came on for him, who doesn’t have the level to cope with the difficult job Lucas had yesterday: shut down the Messi-Jordi Alba link and also create danger. Lucas Vázquez was key to Zidane’s approach.
Messi fails to contribute as Barcelona fall short
Real Madrid had a tough time of it in the final minutes of the first half and an even worse time of it in the second half. For the first quarter of an hour they still had the impetus of Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius and Kroos on the counter, but Zidane could see they were tired and brought on Asensio, Mariano, Isco and Marcelo, that fixed nothing. Barça gained more from their fresh legs and their final offensive was brutal. As so often in difficult circumstances their silver bullet, Messi, failed them. All too often he produces far too little just when the circumstances need something major. And so the points stayed at Valdebebas, while Barcelona are left with their right to complain.