Barcelona Ties Real Madrid in a Heated Clasico
Barcelona and Real Madrid showed Sunday that they don’t need titles at stake to produce a thrilling game.
With Barcelona having already clinched the Spanish league title and Madrid focused on its Champions League final later this month, it was supposed to be the most low-key Clásico in years.
Instead, the Camp Nou was treated to a heated contest and four goals, including Lionel Messi’s strike that ensured Barcelona salvaged a 2-2 draw despite playing a man down for the whole second half and remained undefeated in the league this season.
When asked if the match had lived up to its “decaffeinated” billing, Barcelona Coach Ernesto Valverde said: “Decaf? It had extra caffeine. Both sides always want to win a game like this.”
Madrid was dominating the match when Barcelona right back Sergi Roberto was shown a direct red card during first-half for swiping his hand at Madrid defender Marcelo’s face as tempers flared.
But Messi came to the hosts’ rescue, sending the ball past Keylor Navas in the 52nd minute to swing the match back in Barcelona’s favor despite playing a man down.
Gareth Bale pulled Madrid level in the 72nd after curling in a pass by substitute Marco Asensio.
Madrid Coach Zinedine Zidane said that he wasn’t worried about Ronaldo being able to play in the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 26.
“He doesn’t feel good now, but I don’t think it is anything serious,” Zidane said. “We will have him ready.”
Barcelona stayed unbeaten through 35 league matches this season and extended its record run to 42 consecutive games without a loss.
While Madrid played its best after Suárez briefly put Barcelona ahead, Barcelona regrouped after Roberto was sent off.
Barcelona began to lose its composure after Ronaldo’s goal, and Jordi Alba shoved Luka Modric before both Suárez and Sergio Ramos were booked for a tussle.
Messi earned himself a yellow for a hard tackle on Ramos before Roberto responded to Marcelo’s bump from behind by slapping at his face. Marcelo fell down and the referee didn’t hesitate in flashing the red card for Roberto.
But halftime changed everything.
Ronaldo stayed on the bench and, without its star, Madrid couldn’t impose its numerical advantage.
Suarez won the ball back from Raphaël Varane after a side-to-side collision and passed to Messi, who used a blistering strike of his left boot to drive the ball just inside the post.
That goal took Messi’s Clasico record to 26 goals.
Messi looked poised to get another goal, but instead Bale made it 2-2 by using one touch to curl Asensio pass around Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen.
Barcelona’s players held an impromptu celebration on the pitch for the result and its domestic double, with the coaching staff giving them the guard of honor that Madrid’s players declined.