Posted October 26, 2013

Three thoughts on Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Real Madrid in the season’s first Clásico

La Liga
Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona

Alexis Sanchez scored a brilliant winner as Barcelona won the first Clásico of the season. (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Three thoughts on a back-and-forth edition of the Clásico, which saw Barcelona defeat their bitter rivals Real Madrid 2-1 at the Nou Camp:

1) Real Madrid deserved a draw, at least. Make no mistake, Barcelona put forth an admirable, balanced performance. They attacked with abandon in the first half, got a goal from Neymar in the 19th minute, and did well to repel wave after wave of Real Madrid attacks in the second stanza. But luck and questionable officiating conspired to deny Madrid a pair of golden goal-scoring opportunities in two second-half minutes.

First, Cristiano Ronaldo should have been awarded a penalty kick after Javier Macherano shoved him down in the box.

Then mere seconds later Karim Benzema rattled the woodwork with a blistering shot from distance that had Barça goalkeeper Victor Valdes beaten.

Had that shot been just an inch lower, or had the officiating crew made the correct decision against Mascherano, Real Madrid could have tied the score at one and anything could have happened thereafter. As it was, Alexis Sanchez doubled Barcelona’s advantage just a few minutes after Madrid’s fateful spell, and Jesé’s late finish served only as a consolation for Madrid.

2) Barça buys better. With both teams having splashed the cash on major offseason acquisitions, to some Saturday’s Clásico may have also doubled as a referendum on those moves. And while Gareth Bale and Neymar both started the game for their respective teams in similar positions, that proved to be the only similarity between the two.

While Neymar was consistently dangerous and inventive in wide areas, Bale struggled to get into the rhythm of the game and was too quick to try one of his signature long-range shots (each of which sailed harmlessly over the crossbar). Neymar completed 79 percent of his passes, while Bale connected on a mere 57 percent of his. Neymar was subbed off late to Camp Nou applause. Bale was removed in favor of Benzema 15 minutes into the second half, and Los Merengues looked far more dangerous thereafter. Now seems like a good time to revisit the price paid for each. Neymar cost €57 million. Bale, nearly twice that.

3) Neymar’s goal wasn’t beautiful, but Sanchez’s sure was. Neymar’s finish wasn’t a typically smooth Barcelona goal. In fact, the Brazilian got a little lucky that his close-range effort at a tough angle deflected off a Madrid defender’s leg, catching goalkeeper Diego Lopez off guard as it rolled into the back of the net.

Sanchez’s, though, was something special.

alexischip

Probably not the best positioning by Lopez, but the skill required to get that ball under control, bamboozle Raphael Varane, and chip that effort exactly between the crossbar and the goalkeeper is great enough to make this a Clásico goal to remember.

12 comments
FCBarca
FCBarca

Skipped the penalty that wasn't called for Pepe on Cesc either eh?...Or Ramos not being sent off on bookings?...All too familiar & myopic

FrankMcDonell
FrankMcDonell

Why are you cutting the assit from Netmar to Alexis??? 

FrankMcDonell
FrankMcDonell

Neymar's goal was by design. He used to do this ALL THE TIME (check the Youtube clips). He cuts, waits for the dedefenbder to stop and open his legs, and puts a Nutmeg into the goal between the defender legs. This is probably the 15th time I see him do the exact same goal. 

jkastar
jkastar

    If Ronaldo was (100%) looking to score a goal from live play, he would have maybe gotten a call.  Rather, from this clip, it looks like Ronaldo possibly is trying to draw a foul.  He wins position, then he puts on the breaks for a brief moment and that is when he gets hit.  This (him putting on the brakes) makes the play look more like a 50-50 and more like a legal (albeit hard) shoulder tackle by Macherano.  One could even construe it as obstruction on the part of Ronaldo, seeing how he is "moving into the way of an opponent, " as the FIFA obstruction laws state.  

     These moments are why Ronaldo has a reputation as a diver, and also why he does not get the benefit of the doubt in these situations.  It's sort of a "you dig your own grave" scenarios.  Just as Ndamakuh Suh is going to rack up fines for legal hits in the NFL due to his reputation and history, Ronaldo is not going to get all the calls because of his reputation as a diver.  To watch slow-motion, and debate the fairness of the call does not do a service to the referees who have to watch the game from only their own angle, and in real time.  If a ref cannot see the play (with confidence), he has no right to make the call.  Referees are just as human in the game as the players that shank one off the post.  To be sure, three inches to the outside, and the shot off the post is even more of an afterthought, as it would miss the frame entirely.  

     There may have been a foul, but the ref didn't call it, because he thought Ronaldo was looking for a foul.  


ymuzaffar1
ymuzaffar1

If you want to talk about these a penalty that was not called then you have to also talk about the Penalty which was not called for barcelona when Fabregas was kicked from the back inside the square and the ref let the play go on. 


Also talking about Benzema's missed kick and saying it should have been a goal demands that you also talk about Messi's missed oppertunity when he was one on one with the goalkeeper


This report is so much in favor of Real it stinks. If you want to write an article, be objective or spare us your non-sense.

eliar3
eliar3

Glad Ronaldo did NOT get the call...I think officials throughout the world need to swallow or pocket their whistles on ANYTHING close and allow play to proceed, unless something is blatantly obvious.  Get the diving OUT OF THE GAME, even if it means some missed calls.  Ronaldo will think twice about letting up to draw a foul next time...and more about completing the play on his own merit (of which he has plenty, so use it!).

DerekOsley
DerekOsley

... Game was not a referendum on Neymar or Bale.  Long before this game everyone knew that Neymar fit in very well at Barca.  And it already was before the entire season that most saavy fans knew that Bale could never make up for someone like Ozil, let alone the absurd 100 million euros paid for him!

As for Madrid deserving a draw... How is hitting the woodwork unlucky?  It's a missed shot.  And even Ronaldo's penalty claim, watch it more closely: Ronaldo has a clear path to the ball which most strikers would pounce on, but he instead decides to lean straight into Macherano to draw the contact and make no attempt at the ball.  Sure, gullible refs often award penalties when they see contact like that in the penalty box.  But that doesn't mean we should expect it every time.

DerekOsley
DerekOsley

This game wasn't a referendum on Neymar or Bale. 

anabnos
anabnos moderator

I didn't edit the GIF - that's @Corkgaines/Business Insider as it says on the watermark. Agree the assist was quite nice, though. Thanks for reading. -A

DerekOsley
DerekOsley

@FrankMcDonell  Agreed!  Neymar wasn't "lucky" as the writer says.  His was a beautiful goal intentionally put right through the defender's legs. 

sld1776
sld1776

@ymuzaffar1 

Sure, WTF? There was a missed penalty call on Cesc. How come writers have decided to ignored that? Barca was better overall. The win was more than deserved.