A drama-packed El Clasico, with Barcelona ending up as the victors and a 14 point lead going into Christmas.
El Clasico has often been the toughest game in La Liga, with Barcelona and Real Madrid edging each other for the title. This particular fixture is often considered as ‘title-match’. However, this season the difference between the two sides has been massive enough for the match not to be considered as a title match.
While Real Madrid entered the stadium after conquering the Club World Cup, Barcelona started playing well in the season after their dismal start to the season. However, Real Madrid was not the best of sides against Barcelona at the Bernabeu, with their last two games going against the home side.
Here are the five game-changing moments from the first El Clasico of this season:
1) Cristiano Ronaldo’s missed opportunities:
It might be the commentators’ curse or it is just Cristiano’s luck this season. After capturing the prestigious individual title this season, Cristiano could only muster four goals this season, while his counter-part Lionel Messi scored 15 goals this season.
However, the stage was set for the Portuguese Striker after his fifth Ballon’d Or. Real Madrid began the match on a bright note, with chances falling at the feet of Cristiano. However, he could not convert the golden opportunity in the first half, missing a simple chance to put the hosts up in the El Clasico.
Similarly, in the second half too the Portuguese striker was terrible in front of the goal, as Barcelona continued to plunder at the other end.
2) Benzema’s shot shook the woodwork:
6 – Karim Benzema has hit the woodwork more than times (6) than he has scored (5) in all competitions this season. Unlucky. pic.twitter.com/8mvmkcKhSD
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 23, 2017
While Ronaldo missed the simplest of opportunities to put Los Blancos up in the game, fellow striker Karim Benzema was just not lucky to put the ball across the line. Benzema’s shot ricocheted off the post and resulted in a goal-kick.
Barcelona’s custodian Marc Andre Ter Stegen did not have any chance in front of that shot, as it was a well-struck shot past the eyes of the German keeper. If that effort resulted in a goal, the outcome of the match might have been different.
3) Luis Suarez’s opening goal:
Luis Suarez had a similar opening to La Liga just like Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Both the strikers could not put away the chances they got, leaving them frustrated game after game. While Ronaldo continued to struggle, Suarez found goals thanks to the mesmerising pass from the Argentine Lionel Messi.
Messi, however, was not the one who found the Uruguayan striker. After a dazy run from Ivan Rakitic in the middle of the park, the Croatian found Sergi Roberto on the wing who in turn found the striker wanting inside the box.
4) Paulinho was the best striker on the pitch:
Despite playing as a midfielder, Barcelona’s Paulinho ended the match as one of the best strikers in the match. The Brazilian midfielder was seen more at Real’s end, than the Uruguyuan striker Luis Suarez.
Messi’s pass found the Brazilian wanting inside the box, where his first-time shot was brilliantly saved by Keylor Navas. The second chance for Barcelona too fell to the Brazilian as he snuck past Varane to put a header to the near end post. Further, in the second half, Paulinho almost scored with a header if not for the attempt from Dani Carvajal.
5) Dani Carvajal’s handball:
Retweet if you think Dani Carvajal is a better Goalkeeper than Simon Mignolet pic.twitter.com/OgX2Y1l1iG
— Football Trolls (@Footballltrolls) December 23, 2017
Real Madrid was Messi throughout the match, oops messy. Real Madrid began the match with four defenders and two defensive midfielders in the form of the Brazilian Casemiro and the Italian Kovacic. Despite the intense defensive set-up by the French tactician Zinedine Zidane, Los Blancos could not sustain the efforts from Barcelona.
This was evident from all the three Barcelona goals. To begin with, the first one was a result of not pressurizing the Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic at the middle of the park. The second goal was a result of the mistake from the full-back Carvajal. It was a terrible mistake from the Spanish full-back who just used his hand to stop the ball from reaching the goal.
The third goal, however, was not a result of the defensive error as Aleix Vidal knocked the ball straight into the back of the net.
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