Real Madrid emerged victorious over fierce rivals Barcelona this afternoon, courtesy of a masterclass in leadership from Sergio Ramos.
#ElClasico – the game that never disappoints. 🔥
All the highlights from a huge win for @realmadriden at the Camp Nou! 📺
— LaLigaTV (@LaLigaTV) October 24, 2020
Advantage Blancos in title race
The latest edition of the highly-anticipated Clasico was played out a short time ago.
The matchup came as a somewhat unusual one in the grand scheme of things in La Liga, with Spanish football’s two biggest clubs, as things stand, looking very much vulnerable.
Hosts Barcelona are of course in the midst of a transitional period, as Ronald Koeman aims to integrate a raft of young talent into the first-team ranks at the Camp Nou, following the departures of the likes of Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.
In turn, the Blaugrana had managed an underwhelming 7 points from their opening 4 league outings of the campaign.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, on the back of a solid opening to the defence of their La Liga crown, were bizarrely downed by Cadiz at the Bernabeu last weekend, with Zinedine Zidane’s men having followed up with another defeat in the club’s Champions League opener during the week.
As such, with Ronald Koeman having also opted to field a trio of teenagers in his starting XI, a wide open affair was widely predicted ahead of kick-off in Catalunya this afternoon.
And, when all was said and done, this is precisely what fans were treated to.
In fact, a pulsating opening to proceedings saw both sides go on to find the net within the opening 10 minutes.
It was visitors Real who took the lead, as Fede Valverde burst through on goal completely unmarked, following a perfect through ball from Karim Benzema.
And the Blancos midfielder made no mistake with his finish, aiming a pinpoint side-footed effort high into the far corner of Neto’s net:
Madrid strike first in the Clasico! 😱
A brilliant, composed finish from Fede Valverde puts Zidane’s side into the lead ⚪ pic.twitter.com/yaiLc6rErX
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) October 24, 2020
Barcelona, though, quickly picked themselves up, to level the score just 5 minutes later.
After Lionel Messi set Jordi Alba free behind a high Real backline, the latter squared for Ansu Fati to slot home from close range.
1 – Aged 17 years and 359 days, @FCBarcelona‘s Ansu Fati has become the youngest player to score in #ElClásico in all comps in the 21st century, breaking the previous record held by Vinícius Júnior (19y 233d). Star. pic.twitter.com/MHi9zMYEJv
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 24, 2020
The opening 45 minutes continued to play out at a frenetic pace, as the likes of Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema both went close to putting their respective sides in front.
Upon the half-time whistle sounding, though, the scoreline remained locked at a goal apiece.
Opportunities continued to present themselves during the early exchanges of the second 45, with Philippe Coutinho having somehow managed to direct a header from close range outside Thibaut Courtios’ near post.
And, just minutes later, the hosts were made to pay for their wastefulness.
After a Real Madrid corner was whipped into the Barca box with pace, Clement Lenglet needlessly grabbed a hold of the jersey of Sergio Ramos.
The visitors’ captain inevitably went to ground in dramatic fashion, with a subsequent VAR check having seen a penalty correctly awarded.
Ramos dusted himself down, before slotting home the ensuing spot-kick to hand the Spanish champions their 2nd lead of the afternoon.
Sergio Ramos gives Madrid a 2-1 lead from the penalty spot ⚪
Should he have had the penalty for this pull on his jersey in the first place, though? 🤔
The referee awarded the spot kick after a lengthy VAR review 👀 pic.twitter.com/SCQyVpPuhS
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) October 24, 2020
Barcelona’s endeavours to level things up over the final half-hour were met by a resilient Real backline, guided in their every move by goalscorer Ramos.
And the defensive efforts of Zidane’s men, with just minutes to go, saw the visitors rewarded at the other end.
Substitute Luka Modric was the man on target on this occasion, keeping his cool after picking up the ball in the Barca box, before directing a nonchalant strike with the outside of his boot high into the home side’s goal.
3 goals, 3 points, and an early advantage in the La Liga title race for Los Blancos.
Ramos reins supreme/Dest delivers on debut
On the back of proceedings coming to a close at the Camp Nou, result side, there appears two major talking points when it comes to the displays of those on show this afternoon.
First, credit must go to Sergio Ramos.
Love him or hate him, the Real Madrid captain is the epitome of a leader, with the difference in the stability of the capital giants’ backline today, compared to when they shipped 3 in Ramos’ absence versus Shakhtar midweek, clear for all to see.
The Spanish international led his side forward with equal grit and composure, with his organisational abilities exactly what were required in keeping the waves of 2nd-half Barcelona attacks at bay.
He of course even managed to win and convert a penalty on the hour mark, the pivotal moment in the 90 minutes at the Camp Nou.
If the ultimate goal is to win, then Ramos is the man you want in your team.
🔎 | FOCUS
Sergio Ramos vs Barcelona:
⏱️ 90′ played
👌 72 touches
⚽️ 1 goal
🥅 4 shots/3 on target
👟 52/55 acc. passes
⚔️ 7/10 duels won
🧲 3 interceptions
🚀 4 clearances
❌ 3 tackles
⚖️ 1 penalty won
📈 8.3 SofaScore rating
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) October 24, 2020
Whilst it will therefore likely be Ramos who takes the headlines this evening, though, one performance at the Camp Nou which should not go unrecognised was that of Sergino Dest.
United States international Dest was thrown in at the deep end by Ronald Koeman following his summer Barca switch, for his first Clasico appearance.
The teenage right-back, though, stepped up in a major, major way.
Dest looked completely unfazed by the occasion, hardly putting a foot wrong all night.
The former Ajax man kept the always dangerous Vinicius Jr. in check throughout the 90 minutes, winning almost every tackle he stepped into, whilst also providing necessary cover for his centre-halves.
This is not to mention his contributions going forward, with Dest, when handed the opportunity, having looked fully capable of carving open Real’s backline courtesy of his blistering pace and dancing feet.
Yes, it was just one game, and yes it came in defeat, but, if Sergino Dest can continue to perform at a level even close to what he produced this afternoon, then Barcelona will finally have found their long-overdue replacement for Dani Alves.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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