Sunday’s El Clasico game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid may have been one of the more exciting Clasicos in recent times, and it has left the Catalan team only one point behind both Madrid teams, who sit on top of the table at 70 points, in what will be an exciting finish to this 2013-2014 season. Sunday’s game was not lacking in excitement, with 3 lead changes, great individual performances, stunning goals, 3 penalty kicks which led to goals, a red card for Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, and the usual confrontations between players as only this rivalry can provide.
The much anticipated game went off to a flying start when only 4 minutes into the game, Barcelona striker Lionel Messi received the ball nearly 30 yards out and played it through to his teammate on the left side, Andres Iniesta, who struck the ball from 16 yards out with his left foot, putting it into the roof of the net and beating Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
However it was the Madrid combination of midfielder Angel Di Maria and striker Karim Benzema that highlighted much of the first half. The two players had combined for 2 goals in the first half, with a Di Maria cross meeting an unmarked Benzema in the box, who buried the chances with a header and a volley. Both goals came within 4 minutes of each other, thrusting Madrid into a 2-1 lead after the 24th minute.
Lionel Messi was once again the central cog in the Barcelona machine, when 3 minutes before the end of the first half, the Argentine weaved his way through defenders, attempted a through ball to Brazilian teammate Neymar Jr., but then quickly recovered the ball and managed to shoot through 3 defenders and bring Barcelona back on level terms. The first half was filled with calls and replays indicating that referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco may have made some questionable decisions.
The second half went underway, and 10 minutes into the second half Real Madrid were awarded a penalty kick for a foul Dani Alves committed as Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo made a weaving run into the box. Debate ensued as the replay showed that Ronaldo was fouled outside the box, a potential mistake made by the referee. The Portuguese man made no mistake, however, and it became 3-2 after 55 minutes.
10 minutes later, Barcelona were awarded their own penalty as Neymar was tripped up by Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, who the referee had sent off for the challenge. Lionel Messi had converted the penalty, and Madrid manager made the decision to take off his striker Benzema in order to strengthen his defense in putting on Raphael Varane. Barcelona were once again level with over 20 minutes left to play.
Towards the end of the game Barcelona were awarded their 2nd penalty, when Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso missed his challenge for the ball and fouled Andres Iniesta in the box, leaving Messi to take another penalty kick which he sent into the top corner, completing his hat-trick and giving his team a much needed victory against their rivals, with 4-3 the final score.