It was a Clasico that lived up to its top billing in a torrential rainstorm that can only be described as biblical.
The Alfredo di Stefano stadium was the venue for a Real Madrid v Barcelona match for the first time ever and the hosts would go on to triumph against their eternal rivals for the second time this season.
As is normally the case with these matches, it didn’t pass without incident.
Referee, Gil Manzano, a late substitute for Mateu Lahoz who was injured in midweek, needs to look long and hard at some of the decisions made, particularly in the first half.Real Madrid’s Casemiro, although sent off late on for two yellow cards, could quite easily have been dismissed before half-time for a series of challenges that he almost always gets away with.
Though, as was seen once again, as soon as he is challenged and rolls around on the floor – unusual for such a supposedly strong midfield general – a yellow card is invariably handed to the opposition player, as it was on Saturday night.
In any event, in the first 45, despite ceding two thirds of the possession, Los Blancos did what they do best and hit Barca twice before the half hour.
They scored the first thanks to a lightning quick break that was finished with a super Karim Benzema back heel, before Toni Kroos’ deflected free-kick seemed to make life comfortable for Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Barca were a lot more penetrative in the second half, and a mixture of backs against the wall defending from the hosts and profligate finishing from the visitors ensured that Oscar Mingueza’s goal with half an hour to play would only end up being a consolation.
With almost the last kick of the match, Ilaix Moriba hammered the ball against the crossbar, and on balance of play, had it dipped a couple of inches lower and handed Barca the equaliser, it probably would’ve been a fairer result.
As it is, Los Blancos now leapfrog the Catalans into second place and go a point ahead, meaning they’re level with Atletico Madrid who play away against Betis on Sunday.
With only a few games of the league season left to play, it really is all to play for, for every team, and this title race looks like it will go right to the wire before anyone is crowned as champions.
No matter who you support, that’s what football is all about… isn’t it?!