Barcelona won Sunday’s El Clasico with Real Madrid 4-3. Lionel Messi scored a hat trick — the first Barcelona player to do so at the Santiago Bernabéu. It tightened up the standings atop La Liga’s table considerably, with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid level on 70 points, with Barcelona one back with 69.
That’s the boring part of the story.
The game itself — for the first 30 odd minutes — was a delight for soccer fans, whether it was Messi threading passes to Andres Iniesta or Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema hooking up for a pair of goals. In short, it was nothing like the cynical, foul-filled, unnecessary-drama fueled El Clasicos of the Jose Mourinho era at Real Madrid. This was the stuff you hope to see on a regular basis: star players, living up to their reputations in the world’s biggest spotlight, Messi in particular.
Late in the first half Messi leveled the score at 2-2. In the immediate aftermath Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos bumped into his teammate, Pepe, who in turn collided with Barca’s Cesc Fabregas. Pepe went down like a sack of bricks — obviously — trying to sell the move like a bad wrestler and get Fabregas booked. It didn’t work out for the Portuguese hardman, who earned a yellow card for his effort … and a face full of cleat from Sergio Busquets. Naturally the sneakily dirtiest man in soccer, Busquets, got away with it looking as if he was playing peacemaker instead of Pepe face-rearranger.
Nobody is ever going to feel too bad for Pepe — a noted butcher on the field — but, man, is Busquets continually the worst or what? Somehow he gets away with it, too!
Maybe next Clasico we can let these two settle it with a pregame prison shank fight and be done with it once and for all.
[Photo via Getty]