FC Barcelona

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned from El Clasico

Jason PettigroveContributor IMarch 23, 2014

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned from El Clasico

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    El Clasico once again provided us with the very best in entertainment.
    El Clasico once again provided us with the very best in entertainment.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Real Madrid vs. Barcelona. El Clasico. The big one.

    A match of such epic proportions that football fans worldwide watch in droves, regardless of who they support.

    As a spectacle it very rarely lets us down, and there is always something to play for other than bragging rights.

    Sunday night's game was no different.

    A win for the hosts would see them seven points ahead of their biggest rivals, whilst three points for the visitors would blow the La Liga title race wide open once more.

    Let's take a look at six things we learned from the game.

Lionel Messi Makes History

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    Lionel Messi is now out on his own as the all-time record holder in El Clasico fixtures.
    Lionel Messi is now out on his own as the all-time record holder in El Clasico fixtures.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Lionel Messi now stands out on his own as the all-time record holder of goals scored in El Clasico fixtures.

    With his 42nd-minute strike, he surpassed Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano's total of 18 goals. 

    His 19th goal in the fixture had to be worked for, too. He was involved three separate times in the same move, firing the bullet as three defenders came to close him down.

    His first penalty also sent him clear of Hugo Sanchez as the foreigner with the most-ever goals in La Liga.

    His 12th assist in the fixture for Andres Iniesta's opener is a mere side note.

Step Forward, Angel Di Maria

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    Angel Di Maria has rarely played better.
    Angel Di Maria has rarely played better.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    What a performance from the wiry Argentine.

    Angel Di Maria was everywhere, covering every blade of grass in the Santiago Bernabeu.

    It was no surprise that both of Madrid's first two goals came via the Los Blancos wide man. His crosses were simply sensational that Karim Benzema couldn't miss.

    Aside from his wonderful crossing ability, his link-up play was also on point. He was always available and a constant thorn in the Blaugrana's side.

    Di Maria was Man of the Match by a country mile.

Real Madrid and Barcelona Theatrics

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    Cristiano Ronaldo in particular went down at the slightest opportunity.
    Cristiano Ronaldo in particular went down at the slightest opportunity.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Real Madrid and Barcelona have proven themselves to be truly classy footballing sides over the course of this La Liga season.

    So why do they feel the need to simulate at every given opportunity?

    Cristiano Ronaldo in particular appeared to go down at the slightest touch. Neymar, too.

    It's not befitting these clubs and sets of players held in such high esteem around the world.

    Completely unnecessary.

Why Pick Javier Mascherano Ahead of Marc Bartra?

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    Tata Martino's continued selection of Javier Mascherano in central defence is baffling.
    Tata Martino's continued selection of Javier Mascherano in central defence is baffling.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Tata Martino was asking for trouble.

    How many times do we have to repeat over and over and over again: Javier Mascherano is not a central defender.

    Never has been and never will be.

    His tackle on Karim Benzema for the first goal was non-existent, while his attempt at clearing the Frenchman's header was pathetic.

    In general terms, his positioning is not of a sufficient standard to warrant his continued employment in this role.

    Marc Bartra has signed on until 2017 but needs games to gain confidence. As a natural in the position, it's arguable that he can provide better cover there than the Argentine.

    How many more mistakes does Mascherano have to make?

Struggling Neymar Shouldn't Have Started

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    Did Neymar deserve selection from the start?
    Did Neymar deserve selection from the start?Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Since his return from injury, Neymar hasn't really been at the races.

    He has struggled for form, and we've not really seen the best from the young Brazilian. During his hour or so on the pitch Neymar did nothing to suggest his inclusion was the correct one.

    Is it fair to suggest that any other player would not have made the starting XI for this match?

    On the other hand, Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez have both been excellent in recent weeks.

    Perhaps Martino takes his instructions from on high?

    After all...you couldn't possibly have your €86 million marketing phenomenon sit on the bench in the game that provides the biggest worldwide audience.

    That would be just too cynical, right?

A Fabulous Advert for La Liga

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    It was a wonderful advert for La Liga.
    It was a wonderful advert for La Liga.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    My word, was the worldwide audience treated to some game of football!

    If we look past the unnecessary histrionics, it had absolutely everything we could ask for: goals galore, individual moments of great skill, attacking and defensive excellence from both sides.

    Plus there were red cardsand three penalties!

    And with a Barcelona win, the title race is wide open once again.

    Absolutely sensational.

     

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