Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo Rule Clasico Again (Barcelona vs Real Madrid)

If the pregame was all about the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry and importance, the match was exactly the same. Barcelona and Real Madrid featured other players who had quite an effect on the match, but the big two were the only players who scored, as the Clasico ended in a 2-2 draw, keeping the 8 point distance at the top of the La Liga table.

It was a story that could be split into a few parts. Real Madrid were the more dangerous side for most of the match, but were only really the better side during the early parts of the first half. Barcelona started feeling a lot more comfortable after scoring the equalizer, confidence streaming through their veins, understanding that their defensive woes can be fixed, mostly by having someone like Lionel Messi.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring after a fantastic Real Madrid passing move. No counter attack, just patient and clever passing across the penalty box, until they found Dani Alves out of position, with Cristiano Ronaldo free to rifle in a goal for the sixth straight Clasico match (all competitions), as Valdes left too much of a gap to his right.

All the panic in the Barcelona defense, made up of Jordi Alba, Adriano and Javier Mascherano could have been made worse by Martin Montoya replacing Dani Alves, but that actually stabilized matters, as Montoya rarely ventured forward, preferring to concentrate on Ronaldo. And Barcelona got a bit of luck that brought them back in the match.

Somewhat of a confusion in the Real Madrid box left Pepe, jumping a bit too enthusiastically  on the ground, and Lionel Messi, not for the first time, was quicker than everyone pouncing on the rebound. From then on until the end of the half and for most of the second half it was a typical Barcelona – Real Madrid game, with the usual Barca ball movement.

In the second half it was Lionel Messi scoring again – a very similar free kick to the one he scored at the Bernabeu just over a month ago. Perfect curl, rise and drop, giving Barcelona a deserved lead at that point. But Real Madrid, now with Gonzalo Higuain instead of Karim Benzema on the pitch, were quick to react to some bad passing in the Barcelona midfield, bad coverage by Adriano and Javier Mascherano, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo completely free to make it 2-2.

Ronaldo was mostly bothered by a shoulder injury he picked up for the rest of the match, finding it hard to run and be involved in the match, leaving Barcelona to provide a very strong finish. Alexis, unfortunately for them, made no difference during his time off the bench; Pedro, Lionel Messi and Martin Montoya missed what could have been winning goals; the first Clasico draw at the Camp Nou in almost a decade.

Happier about it? Probably Barcelona. They did have quite a few opportunities to win this one at the close of the match, but their defensive problems were all too evident, nearly costing them too much in the first half. Having Lionel Messi proved to be oh so valuable once again while Vilanova made shifts and changes non stop in his lineup. Real Madrid, despite having a very good performance at the Camp Nou, are still 8 points behind, which makes them the more disappointed side of the match, waiting to see the results of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoulder injury.

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