Real Madrid’s 3-0 loss to Barcelona at home produced more questions than answers, especially over the future of Zinedine Zidane
1) Busquets – the best central defensive midfielder in world football
With both sides lining up with four midfielders, the battle in the middle of the park would always be key to which team emerged victorious in Saturday’s El Clásico. In the first half, Real Madrid had the upper hand, which was to be expected with their eleven point gap behind Barcelona in mind, and were on top for most of the game, resulting in a few decent chances.
The second half was a completely different story, however, as Barca, Sergio Busquets in particular, took the initiative. While in the first half a bit sloppy, Busquets controlled the game, providing composure under pressure, key passes between the lines and defensive security after halftime. Suárez and Messi might get the plaudits for the goals but the No5 was instrumental in Barcelona’s 0-3 win.
2) Roberto not Barca’s best option at right-back
Most of Real’s danger came on the left hand side through Cristiano Ronaldo or Marcelo. Sergi Roberto couldn’t contain Ronaldo’s pace at times and proved to be Barca’s weak link in defense in the first half. Roberto made no mistakes but simply lacks speed that is required for a modern day full-back. Therefore Nelson Semedo would be a much better fit at right-back.
Roberto should be given a chance in right-midfield, it’s his natural position and he has already proven himself in that position. When going forward Roberto is a quality player, as we saw in Barcelona’s opening goal against Real Madrid, and it leaves you wondering why Ernesto Valverde doesn’t try him there more often.
3) The difference between Messi and Ronaldo
As a star player, you always want to grab the spotlight and be the main man. Your qualities allow you to be decisive in moments your teams need you but sometimes the situation requires a less ego-driven option. This is where Lionel Messi separated himself from Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday afternoon.
On several occasions, Ronaldo opted to go for goal when teammates were in a much better position to score. In contrast, Messi created several big chances for his teammates while testing the goalie would have surely crossed his mind. The end result is that Barca won the game 3-0 and the difference in approach from both star men certainly played a big part in that.
4) Luis Suárez continues to be decisive in big games
After goals away to Villarreal and Atlético Madrid, Luis Suárez adds Real Madrid to the list of heavyweight victims this season. The Uruguayan rounded off a fantastic Barcelona counter attack to open the score at the Bernabeu. Later on in the game, Suárez should’ve scored his second but Barca grabbed the three points, nonetheless.
It’s interesting to see that Suárez always seems to turn up against Real Madrid, scoring five goals in seven La Liga appearances against Los Blancos – more than any player since his Clásico debut in 2014. Despite being written off early on in the season, Suárez now has seven goals in his last six league games, making him La Liga’s second highest goal scorer.
5) Barcelona on their way to La Liga glory
With this win over Real Madrid, Barcelona now lead their eternal rivals by fourteen(!) points. Madrid do have a game in hand but it is fair to say that the reigning Spanish champions can say goodbye to their title hopes. A slip up from Atlético Madrid on Friday night against Espanyol (1-0 loss) means that Barca also have a big margin on Diego Simeone’s side.
Surprise packages Valencia looked to threaten the usual candidates early on in the season but have dropped points in recent weeks. Barcelona’s only opponents in La Liga are themselves at the moment. If they stay concentrated and don’t get complacent, they will grab their 25th league title.