Real Madrid have done more than enough to answer their critics!
To say that Real Madrid could have scored atleast five goals wouldn’t be a stretch. With 15 goal attempts, 9 of them on target, Real Madrid shredded the Barcelona team to pieces with their relentless attacking, although they could have still done much better than what we saw.
While Los Blancos could have obviously scored much more, there were a couple of moments on the pitch that will remain the highlights for the remainder of the season – moments that will be surely recalled come the end of the 2020-21 season.
Let’s take a look at them.
Thibaut Courtois’ save against Lionel Messi
It was the 24th minute. The game was shifting momentum from one side to another like a pendulum. Both teams had good opportunities to take the lead after goals from Fede Valverde and Ansu Fati.
Thibaut Courtois has had a particularly poor record against the Argentine, but he has managed to keep him quiet in their last few meetings, extending the record with yet another goalless outing from Messi.
In the 24th minute, however, Messi foxed two defenders and shot low using his right foot. If Messi’s dribble and shot were nigh-perfect, Courtois’ save was equally impressive. That save was a clear indication of how far the Belgian has come from the humiliating 5-1 loss at the Camp Nou in 2018.
VAR interference and Sergio Ramos’ penalty
This was probably the first time that Real Madrid were awarded a goal/penalty courtesy a VAR review in an El Clásico, and rightfully so. Clement Lenglet clearly pulled Sergio Ramos’ shirt in the box. What remains questionable, however, is whether the decision was fair since there have been similar instances that haven’t resulted in an ensuing penalty.
The original decision of no foul was overturned. Sergio Ramos slotted the penalty home (as if that wasn’t obvious). The Barcelona fans were clearly miffed by the referee’s decisions, who awarded a lot of incorrect calls in Barcelona’s favour for the majority of the game (such as Casemiro’s yellow card).
Sergio Ramos last scored a goal against Barcelona in the 2016-17 season, scoring a last-minute equalizer at the Camp Nou. So there’s definitely the added emotion of the Captain scoring against Barcelona, more so when his goal was decisive and came amidst an air of controversy.
The Quartet of Chances
Late in the second half, Real Madrid were leading the game 2-1, and look the more likelier out of the two teams to score the next game. Enjoying a good spell, Real Madrid conjured up four clear-cut goal-scoring chances, fluffing all of them.
In the 85th minute, Kroos forced a double-save from Neto (credit to Neto for not letting Real score more than 3. Barcelona could have easily conceded six goals.). The very next minute, a neat Lucas Vázquez cross found Sergio Ramos in the box, who volleyed it straight at Neto. Raphaël Varane then headed the rebound wide.
Real Madrid could have and should have scored once from the aforementioned chances, but these chances were a strong demonstration of how creating chances were a child’s play, and that a lack in quality of finishing has cost them at times. The ruthlessness is still missing, but fans will surely feel proud at this moment.
Lucas Vázquez’s step-overs
There was someone else playing at right-back after Nacho left the field due to a niggle. That was Lucas Vázquez but that wasn’t Lucas Vázquez. Once Real Madrid were in the driver’s seat, the Spaniard was adventurous and all his endeavours reaped rich rewards.
There was one particular moment in the second half when Lucas Vázquez received the ball in the Barca box and pulled off (successfully) around 5-6 step-overs. That was a dope move, a moment of madness considering how badly he has been trolled (Madridistas included!) for his wasteful showboating. Nonetheless, he put in a demonic shift. The fact that he dispossessed Messi once or twice pretty much sums it up.
Luka Modric’s goal
This is my personal favourite from the game. Luka Modrić is making it harder and harder for us to believe that he is 35! He found the ball at the feet with Neto not guarding the goal and the Barcelona defenders completely clueless.
Today, Lukita showcased his immaculate dancing skills, moving his feet with such finesse around keeper and then finally guiding the ball into the net with his signature outside of the boot shot. The goal rubbed salt on Barcelona’s wounds. The goal symbolized how easily Real Madrid outplayed their rivals.
The Croatian has been simply phenomenal. At this rate, he can easily play for Real Madrid for the rest of his playing career. It would be wonderful to see the magician hang his boots in the Royal White jersey, although that day seemingly looks far away considering his performances and levels.