Questions and answers following the latest el clasico which saw Barcelona edge out Real Madrid in a seven-goal thriller at the Santiago Bernabeu to get back into the La Liga title race:
1. Who was the biggest winner?
Sure, Barcelona now find themselves back in the title race (one point back of Real), but the other club in Madrid were the ones celebrating Sunday night. Thanks to yesterday’s result, Atletico Madrid are now the La Liga leaders (Atletico Madrid is actually tied with Real but get the nod based on their head-to-head) with nine matches left in the season. It means that Atletico now control their own destiny. Win their remaining matches – including the last one at home to Barcelona – and they will claim their first title since 1996.
2. Was there a conspiracy?
Following the match, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos (who received a red card) hinted that referee Udiano Mallenco was responsible for Real’s defeat. Barcelona were awarded two penalties to Madrid’s one and Sergio Ramos was given a straight red card after taking down Neymar for the first penalty. Make no mistake, Mallenco made some questionable calls but it went both ways. While his ejection of Ramos was clearly harsh, the penalty was the correct foul. On the other hand, one can correctly argue that the foul on Ronaldo which resulted in a penalty for Madrid was actually outside the penalty box. Mallenco also handled the scrum after after Barcelona’s second goal pretty well. In the end, Mallenco’s performance was not perfect. But to say he favored one club over the other is frankly quite ludicrous.
3. Did the match live up to the hype?
Sunday’s match was as entertaining a Clasico as there has been in a long time. If you are a soccer fan, these are the type of matches you dream of watching especially one where the stakes are high (which is usually the case between these two clubs). From the onset it looked like both clubs were playing for three points – Barcelona looking to get back into the title race with Real motivated to bury their rivals. Throughout the match, both clubs played at a great pace, with players on either side showing wonderful skill and technique (and a little chippiness as well). There were seven goals scored, including a hat-trick from Lionel Messi, two by Karim Benzema and one from Ronaldo. This edition of el Clasico was a back and forth affair. Just when you thought one side had the momentum, the other would score. And of course we had a little bit of controversy thanks to the referee. Yes, the event certainly lived up to the hype!