Sergio Ramos started running, hesitated – and then hit the left corner. Once again, the Real Madrid defense chief decided an important game. His team won 3: 1 (1: 1) against FC Barcelona in the infamous Clásico on Saturday afternoon. Ramos not only converted the decisive penalty to 2-1, but had also taken it out beforehand. With a typical Ramos action. When a Toni Kroos free-kick sailed into the box in the 60th minute, Barça defender Clément Lenglet tugged on Ramos’ shirt. Since the warrior with the long beard realized that he would not reach the ball optimally, he accepted the offer and let himself fall. The referee watched the scene again in the video and gave the penalty, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman later complained bitterly. But it was a justifiable decision – and the key scene of the game.
Madrid had previously lost two games in a row, against supposedly smaller opponents. In the league against Cádiz, in the Champions League against Donetsk. The 34-year-old Ramos was absent both times due to a knee injury and the captain was back in time for the Clásico. Ramos is a footballer who, like no other, succeeds in pulling his teammates away, and the older he gets, the more dangerous he gets. Last season the defender scored eleven times in the league – at Real, only striker Karim Benzema scored more goals. His role with Los Blancos is more important than ever.
The prestigious victory at Camp Nou is just right for the team and the previously harshly criticized trainer Zinedine Zidane. “I’m happy for the players,” said the Frenchman after the game. “We can be satisfied today.” Ramos conjured up team spirit: “We ran together, we suffered on the pitch together. When things are difficult, we have to be united.” Barcelona plunged deeper into the crisis after the second league defeat in a row, while Madrid took over the top again at least overnight.
A lively but sad Clásico
It was a playfully lively Clásico, but not a high-class one. And it was one of the most saddened in history. The coronavirus pandemic hits Spain like hardly any other country in Europe, more than a million residents have already been infected, and a national emergency could soon be declared. Spectators were therefore not allowed in the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, the emotions on the pitch were more subdued than usual.
Real took the lead early. After a thoughtful pass from Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde hit the far corner from a tight angle in the fifth minute. But just three minutes later, the experienced Jordi Alba crossed the only 17-year-old striker Ansu Fati, who nudged the ball into the goal with his toe, kissed the club emblem on his jersey and shot himself to become the youngest Clásico scorer in history. The two teams gave each other a lot of space, and there were always opportunities. At halftime, each team had fired five shots on goal.
Barça are more offensive, Madrid are smarter
Barça were then the more offensive team, Lionel Messi was happy to play. Fati crossed perfectly on the free-standing Philippe Coutinho in the 54th minute. But the offensive player, who suddenly played an important role in Barcelona after his loan to FC Bayern had expired, negligently headed next to the goal. A little later, Ramos fell in the penalty area – and made sure that not the better, but the clever team won that afternoon. Barcelona goalkeeper Neto, who is currently replacing the injured Marc-André ter Stegen, suspected the corner but did not hold the ball. Ramos stuck out his tongue and let the other players hug him.
From then on, Messi, Fati and Coutinho played out chance after chance, but there were no compelling ones. Not even after Barcelona coach Koeman replaced Antoine Griezmann, whom he had so often reviled, for Fati. At Real, Kroos and Ramos missed good opportunities shortly before the end, before Luka Modric dribbled out goalkeeper Neto and made everything clear in the 90th minute. Messi stopped moving, paused on the lawn, puffing out his cheeks. “We played well and created a lot of chances,” said Koeman after the game. “We deserve to win this game.” But in the end there is a definite defeat.
Barcelona are struggling with themselves
At least since Barcelona embarrassed themselves in August 2: 8 in the Champions League quarter-finals against FC Bayern like never before, the club has not only been fighting against other teams, but above all with itself. The dispute between the players and President Josep Maria Bartomeu escalated. Messi then announced in the summer that he would be leaving the club and only stayed because those responsible wanted to bring him to a legal battle. Messi is trying hard on the pitch, but so far he has not forgiven those responsible, partly because they sold his teammate and friend Luis Suárez to rival Atlético Madrid.
On Friday, Gerard Piqué put in an interview with the newspaper The vanguard again after. While flattering Messi, he heavily criticized those responsible. The club does not come to rest, the defeat against Real at Camp Nou worsens the situation. The Presidium will meet near Barcelona on Monday. Much is now conceivable, even an immediate resignation of the president.