It's safe to say the newest chapter of El Clasico won't be forgotten for a very long time.
Arguably the world's greatest rivalry, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona didn't even come close to disappointing—at least if you're a neutral fan—at the Bernabeu on Sunday night. The visitors eventually escaped with an epic 4-3 victory on the back of a Lionel Messi hat-trick, climbing to within one point of both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid atop the La Liga table.
Following the match, the superstar Argentine discussed Barca's victory, which was translated to English courtesy of the club's official Twitter feed:
VIDEO - Messi: "It was a brilliant game but we have to continue" http://t.co/Kf4jGEGyt4— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 24, 2014
Unfortunately, for as breathless and scintillating as the always-legendary match turned out to be, it was draped in just as much controversy. Referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco sent off Sergio Ramos in the 63rd minute and handed out three penalties, including two in the final half-hour that helped Barcelona erase a 3-2 deficit.
Many of the post-match talking points, unsurprisingly, surrounded the ref's decisions rather than the play on the pitch. Barca defender Gerard Pique talked to reporters about his displeasure in that fact, via beIN Sport's Tancredi Palmeri:
Piqué: "We live in a country where after such a spectacular game we speak about the referee"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2014
Most believe that only the third and final penalty—where Andres Iniesta was crushed in between Dani Carvajal and Xabi Alonso as a short-sided Madrid was attempting to stay even in the final minutes—was the one that should have been awarded.
Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino felt a little differently, calling the second—where Neymar got tangled with Ramos—"undebatable":
Gerardo Martino: "The penalty on Neymar is undebatable"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2014
On the other side of things, Real Madrid feels just a little differently.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored on the first penalty, and Ramos, who was given his marching orders, weren't shy in their post-match comments:
Cristiano: "What penalties...we played against 12 men"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2014
Very very heavy from Sergio Ramos: "This was premeditated". Normally you get a ban to say such things— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2014
Sergio Ramos: "Enough with shutting up. Now these things went over the line, I won't shut up a single more time"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2014
Manager Carlo Ancelotti was a little less direct with his response, concentrating on the future after stating the Blancos didn't deserve to lose, via the club's Twitter feed:
That's the best part in all of this.
Controversy certainly marred this particular match, but there is only more to come. Not only are there nine more thrilling matches as both squads jockey with Atletico Madrid for position at the top of Spain, but we still have another Clasico left in the Copa del Rey final.