The final El Clasico of the decade ended in a stalemate, as Barcelona were forced to share the spoils with arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Nou Camp.
It was a game that would have separated both teams in terms of points at the summit of the LaLiga table, but in the end, both teams held their ground, much like the league table suggests.
It was an exciting matchup, with Real Madrid dominating proceedings for much of the encounter, and defenders on both sides of the aisle coming to the rescue on more than a few occasions.
Although Zinedine Zidane got a very valuable point at the fortress that is the Camp Nou, he would perhaps be ruing the missed opportunity, as Los Blancos’ attack really should have capitalised on their large spells of dominance, especially in the first half.
Gareth Bale possibly came closest to ending the stalemate in the 72nd minute, but his goal was disallowed for offside. In this article, we analyse a few talking points from the encounter.
1. Real Madrid felt at home in the Camp Nou
This was an encounter that was dominated before the kick of a ball by politics rather football, and the atmosphere around the Camp Nou was tense, as the players prepared to do battle in the holy grail of derbies.
If the Real Madrid players felt nervous before the encounter, they certainly didn’t show it, as they outplayed Lionel Messi and his cohorts from the first blast of the whistle.
Zinedine Zidane’s men were in imperial form, chasing down every ball and connected the dots beautifully with crisp and eye-catching passes.
The likes of Casemiro, Isco, and Federico Valverde brought their A-game, as they relentlessly pressed their opponents, forcing Camp Nou’s stars into a series of errors.
Although Barca did punctuate the Madrid dominance with a series of sharp attacking manoeuvres through the encounter, it was an opportunity missed by Zidane’s men, as more often than not, they weren’t precise in the final third.
Los Blancos had a total of 17 shots, in comparison to Barca’s 9, but Madrid’s lack of precision upfront was evidenced by their paltry 4 on target.
2. Lionel Messi’s poor day at the office
It’s not often we say this (in fact, it’s a unicorn occurrence) – Lionel Messi wasn’t the best player on his team at the end of the encounter.
Barca’s talisman performed poorly in the game (by his standards), as he wasn’t able to shake off the relentless Real Madrid defensive pressure for much of the battle, and only managed to spearhead a handful of skirmishes into the Los Blancos defence.
It was a game the entire Barca attack and Messi didn’t turn up, as they were thwarted at every turn by Zinedine Zidane’s men snapping at their heels with relentless intensity.
Messi had only two great chances to score, but he was thwarted by Sergio Ramos in the first half, and he fluffed his lines in front of goal on the hour mark.
At the end of the encounter, Messi had just 2 shots with only one on target, and he only managed to thread just one key pass all game. Those are dismal numbers by his lofty standards.
3. The defenders stand tall
In a fixture always graced by some of the most renowned attacking talents in world football, this instalment will be remembered more for defensive heroics than attacking manoeuvres.
On both sides of the aisle, the defenders were a joy to watch, as they consistently foiled the attackers.
The likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, and Casemiro can especially be singled out, as the 0-0 scoreline was their doing more than anything else.
Ter Stegen was on hand to deny Real Madrid on a couple of occasions, as he deftly thwarted the likes of Karim Benzema, Casemiro, and Fede Valverde, particularly in the first half.
Balls were also cleared off the line, as veteran defenders, Pique and Ramos denied strikers on either end of the divide with gilt-edged interceptions.