Sunday’s El Clasico was a wild affair that included several controversial refereeing decisions, a red card and a few on-field confrontations before ending in a 2-2 draw. Barcelona, the La Liga champs, escaped with their unbeaten record still intact, while Real Madrid put forth a solid showing leading up to their Champions League Final appearance in Ukraine later this month.
While speaking with media after the game, Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said that several Barcelona players, including talisman Lionel Messi, crowded around the referee, Hernandez Hernandez, in the tunnel at half-time. Ramos says he believes Messi’s words got to the referee and that it had an impact on the way the rest of the game unfolded.
One of the benefits of sports betting is the level playing field. Nobody has a crystal ball, so nobody could have imagined what kind of impact the potential confrontation had on the game’s ultimate outcome. Considering Madrid had a man advantage, most imagined Los Blancos would go on to become the first team to beat Barca in the league this season. The Blaugrana will ultimately feel fortunate to have escaped with a point.
Hernandez angered much of the Camp Nou supporters in the first half when he decided against penalizing Madrid winger Gareth Bale for a late challenge on Barca defender Samuel Umtiti. The referee then decided to show Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto a red card following a confrontation with Marcelo.
Barcelona players were seen crowding around Hernandez at the half as home fans booed the referees on their way into the tunnel. Ramos said, “Messi put a little bit of pressure on [Hernandez] in the tunnel. I don’t know if there were cameras. I don’t know if in the second half he would have done things differently [without the pressure].”
The two teams were level at 1-1 before half-time. Luis Suarez opened the scoring before Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for Los Blancos. The former Ballon d’Or winner later had to be subbed off early after sustaining an ankle injury.
Despite having gone down to 10 men with the dismissal of Roberto, Barcelona pulled back in front when Messi put one in the back of the net after Suarez controversially took the ball from Raphael Varane. Madrid complained that Suarez fouled Varane in the process, but no whistle sounded.
When asked about the play afterward, Suarez sheepishly admitted that he believes he got away with a foul on Varane.
“I fouled Varane a little bit because he controls the ball and I catch his foot. But it was the referee’s decision. It surprised me.”
Madrid eventually equalized again when Bale scored after Messi’s goal. The visitors were also denied a penalty chance when Marcelo tumbled in the box. Again, though, the play went without being called.
Suarez went down with what appeared to be an injury late in the game, but Madrid continued to play rather than make the sporting decision to put the ball out of play. Ramos said that he did not believe that Suarez was actually injured, but that the Uruguayan forward was acting hurt to waste more time on the clock.
“Whenever an opponent is down, and you think it could be serious, out of respect, you put the ball out of play. But knowing his [Suarez’] style and his way of playing, he was looking to waste time. Maximum respect to Barcelona, but at that moment, he had not been touched at all.”
To complete the season without a loss, Barcelona will have to get through Villarreal, Levante and Real Sociedad unscathed. Barca will have the chance to become the first La Liga side to go unbeaten through an entire campaign since Real accomplished the feat back in 1932, when the schedule was only 18 games long.