Real Madrid visited the Camp Nou in a rare occurrence where they were considered to be the favorites as they entered the game with a 6-point advantage over their fiercest rivals. At the 90th minute, Sergio Ramos made sure that it does not go below 6 points…
There was a lot of discussion before the match regarding who Zidane would name in his starting lineup but, in the end, there were no surprises as the French manager simply named his strongest available team. The starting lineup consisted of:
Keylor Navas, Daniel Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos [C], Marcelo, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Isco, Lucas Vazquez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema
Luis Suarez (53′)
Real Madrid –
Sergio Ramos (90′)
By far the man-of-the-match for Real Madrid on the night, Luka Modric was commanding the midfield in ways that we haven’t seen him do in a while (which is saying something considering his great performances lately!!). The Croatian was on fire from the first whistle and did everything he was asked for and more to ensure that he was able to make life just a little bit easier for his teammates.
It’s very difficult not to admire Marcelo and his work ethic. The Real Madrid vice-captain was seen running up and down the left flank throughout the game to help in whatever way he could. His crosses and his timely runs were helpful while his tackling at the back annoyed the Barcelona wingers more than they would have initially liked.
This is one of my biggest criticisms of the night: How can Karim Benzema stay on the pitch for approximately 75 minutes when he did NOTHING before that? We were losing 1-0 and Benzema was, quite simply, useless and lazy. There was practically no way that he would have made a difference to the game and therefore keeping him on for that long could have cost us the game! Finally, he was taken off for Marco Asensio and the speed in attack was automatically visible to everyone.
I don’t know how he does it but he shows up pretty much every single time! Sergio Ramos was standing in the box during the closing minute of the game like he has done before, there was a set-piece about to come his way just like there was before, and he was ready to head it brilliantly into the back of the net to break so many hearts… Just like he has done before! The captain has ensured that Los Blancos don’t leave Barcelona empty handed as they still have a slightly comfortable advantage over the Catalans.
Say what you want about him and about how he isn’t “tactical” or how “lucky” he is to be a manager but when your manager goes 33 games unbeaten, it’s easy to sit on your couch at home talking s*** as if you would actually do better. There is no denying that Zidane still has a lot to learn and he has messed up quite a few times, but he also knows what he’s doing. You can’t support him when he beats Atletico Madrid brilliantly then criticize him when he comes out with a 1-1 draw against Barcelona. It’s ridiculous, to say the least.
Coming on as a substitute for Isco, Carlos Casemiro was introduced to control the midfield a little more and he did his job perfectly. The Brazilian gave away quite a few fouls but none of them were too dangerous while he was able to stop many of the Barcelona attacks extremely well. As if that wasn’t enough, he was able to clear the ball off the line in the dying minutes as Real Madrid just equalized. What a night for him and it just goes to show just how important Casemiro can be for the squad.
My Personal Player Ratings:
Keylor Navas – 8/10
Daniel Carvajal – 7.5/10
Raphael Varane – 8.5/10
Sergio Ramos – 8.5/10
Marcelo – 9/10
Mateo Kovacic – 8/10
Luka Modric – 9.5/10
Isco – 7/10
Lucas Vazquez – 7.5/10
Cristiano Ronaldo – 6.5/10
Karim Benzema – 3/10