Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona emerged from a thrilling Clasico the more satisfied on Sunday as the 10-man Catalans edged closer to a first unbeaten La Liga season following a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergi Roberto both missed the second half at Camp Nou, the first injured, the second sent off, as Gareth Bale’s late strike rescued Real a point. Lionel Messi had given Barca the lead after early goals from Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
Barca, already crowned champions, remain 15 points ahead of Real in the table but this clash was about more than just points.
Here, we look at five things we learned from a controversial contest.
No such thing as a dead Clasico
If Sunday’s match proved anything, it is that the Clasico always means something. Eight yellow cards and one red pointed to the heat in the game, which fizzed throughout and briefly erupted during five bad-tempered minutes at the end of the first half. Without the usual relevance to the league table, and with their differing fates in La Liga and the Champions League, this match came down to a basic need to prove one team was better than the other. Barca will claim Real scraped a draw against opponents down to 10 men for half of the match while Real will say they were without their star player for the same time, and perhaps longer at full fitness. And that is not to mention the many grievances against the referee, from both sides, that could have swung the result. In the end, the debate was left open.
Ronaldo makes Real sweat
Zinedine Zidane’s nightmare, far more than a defeat at Camp Nou, would surely have been to lose Cristiano Ronaldo to injury less than three weeks before the Champions League final. Real now face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the damage, with tests due to be carried out on Monday. After the match, Zidane reported that Ronaldo had said it was only a “small problem” but in the same breath admitted the striker was a “little bit worried” by the swelling. The hope will be that Ronaldo played on for 31 minutes after his collision with Gerard Pique because the damage was not significant, rather than made it worse to avoid sitting out a Clasico. Either way, the Portugese will now endure the unwanted attention that comes with sustaining an injury so close to a crunch game. Liverpool will watch with interest.