The names of the players change, but other things don’t: El Clasico, in the league, is still dominated by Barcelona, with the memes following their 5-1 win over Real Madrid focusing on the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and soon to be absent Julen Lopetegui.
And while it’s certainly a punch in the gut to lose like this to your biggest rivals, it’s not exactly a new feeling for this club, with plenty of heavy defeats against Barca in recent years. It usually happens in the Santiago Bernabeu, but the Camp Nou had a famous Manita not that long ago.
So Barcelona showed Messi not playing isn’t the end of the world – there’s plenty of talent, football IQ and cojones to handle his absence. As for Real Madrid? We know they’re badly hurting without Ronaldo, but their first-half display was something of a low-light in a season filled with them, and regardless of what happened in the second one, Lopetegui’s fate was sealed once the teams went down to the dressing rooms at the break.