In a ‘new look’ El Clasico, with both sides struggling at the start of the La Liga season, avoiding yet more dropped points was the key on Saturday. However, for Ronald Koeman and Barcelona, that is exactly what happened. Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane’s arguably defensive tactics paid off, with the Frenchman’s know-how the difference.
Zidane backs his team
Real Madrid, though victorious, were criticised for the way in which they approached the game. But Zidane knew that the most important thing was picking up a win at the Camp Nou:
“That’s not what we’re here for, to shut them up,” the Frenchman said.
“We do our job, believing in what we do, being together when we have to be and that’s what we did. We did it as a team, I’m very proud of them.
“When it comes to defending we had a compact block. Then with a rival open like Barca, we’ve found gaps two or three times and in the end, it’s about trying to play a good game as a team and that’s what we did.”
Luka Modric proved, once again, despite his age, that he remains one of Europe’s best midfielders. Zidane spoke of his happiness for his side, and the Croatian in particular.
“We played a good game, playing against a team that we know is open, that played well.”
“I’m happy for the players because in the end it’s about that, after the last few days of everything they said. I am happy for them and also to finish with Modric’s goal.”
— Goal South Africa (@GoalcomSA) October 24, 2020
Real Madrid moved to the top of the La Liga table courtesy of their win. Atletico Madrid sit two points behind with a game in hand.
Koeman’s VAR frustration
One man who certainly didn’t enjoy his first taste of El Clasico as a manager, though, was Ronald Koeman. The former Everton and Southampton boss made his feelings clear when speaking about the Video Assistant Referee system:
“I don’t understand VAR, I think it is only used to make decisions against Barca,” said the Dutch coach.
“You always get shirt tugs like that in the area and I think Ramos makes a foul on Lenglet first. There’s a tug of the shirt, but not enough to make him fall behind as he did. For me it’s not a penalty.
Did Sergio Ramos deserve this penalty he drew on Clément Lenglet? You be the judge 🧑⚖️
— Yahoo Soccer (@FCYahoo) October 24, 2020
“We have had five matches and has only been used to go against Barca. It’s never gone our way.
“The decision had a big influence on the final result, because we were playing well up to the penalty.”
Some will be quick to point out that for a decision to be given in the Blaugrana’s favour, they would need to deserving of one. VAR is not present to support one team over another, despite it perhaps appearing this way from the perspective of a begrudged coach.
Barcelona now sit in a staggering 12th place in La Liga after 5 matches.
History will of course recall the lack of time afforded to Barca coaches of the past… The pressure will therefore likely soon begin to mount, if Koeman fails to turn the tide on his side’s plummet.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.