2016 El Clasico: FC Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid defeat Barca 2-1 in Clásico with goals from Benzema and Ronaldo
Superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo’s late goal gave Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane a memorable victory in his first Clasico to end Barcelona’s 39 match winning streak and rekindle Madrid’s hopes in the 2016 Spanish La Liga title race. “Few teams win here and I am proud of the players,” Zinedine Zidane remarked about his side’s success at Camp Nou.
Some of La Liga’s biggest stars took the field at Camp Nou fit and prepared to fight to win the much anticipated El Clasico match – the biggest club game of the season, but Ronaldo had the best night of all by scoring the winner at 85 minutes. Karim Benzema scored Real Madrid’s other goal at 62 minutes helping to deliver Barca’s first defeat in 40 matches.
With goals from Madrid’s Benzema and Barca’s Gerard Pique making it 1-1; Real Madrid’s Welsh winger Gareth Bale scored with only 10 minutes left in the match. Bale headed the ball into the net from a Ronaldo cross and was celebrating scoring the match winner when he learned his goal was disallowed by referee Alejandro Hernandez for an alleged push. However 5 minutes later, Bale sent a right-footed cross to Ronaldo who finished superbly making the final score 1-2...
Winger Bale was shocked that his 80th minute goal was wrongfully ruled out. "I can't believe it was disallowed. I made sure I didn't touch him because I know what the Spanish referees are like," said Bale after the massive match. "It was a very bad decision in my eyes." Barca’s only goal was a header by Gerard Pique at 56 minutes. The hard-fought victory brought rekindled hopes to Madrid in the league championship battle as the footballers celebrated, delighted with their win and spirits boosted.
With only seven games left in the 2016-17 campaign, Barcelona are six points clear of Atletico Madrid and seven points ahead of Real Madrid. Barca fell apart at the end of the match for some reason. Barcelona boss Luis Enrique described them as “disoriented”. It was clear that Barca were distracted for long periods of the game, squandering possession in the second half, and missing passes. Except for Pique’s stunning goal there was not much of a goal threat from Barcelona due to Madrid’s highly motivated and organized defense.
“I hope it’s an isolated episode,” said Luis Enrique. Barca’s amazing winning streak was fantastic while it lasted, but does not guarantee trophies at the end. Bale was angry that he was denied the winning goal, but said he looked forward to taking “sweet” revenge in the remaining minutes in the match. With only five minutes left in the match, Bale’s cross reached Ronaldo. Ronaldo controlled on his chest, stepped past Alves and struck through Bravo’s legs for the winning goal.
Real Madrid became the first club to defeat Barca in 40 matches, ending a six months run. “We can beat anyone on our day,” said Bale. Barcelona had opened the scoring with a goal from Gerard Piqué, but Karim Benzema equalized for Madrid before Gareth Bale jumped above Jordi Alba and headed in an amazing goal in the 80th minute that should have been the winner for Madrid. As Bale celebrated, the referee called a foul on Bale and disallowed the goal.
“I can’t believe it was disallowed,” Bale said. “The referee said to me that I pushed him. I didn’t even touch the guy. I was just a bit taller. I made sure I got over the top, I made sure I didn’t touch him because I know what the Spanish referees are like. It was a very bad decision in my eyes.” With only 10 minutes left in the match, Sergio Ramos was sent off.
After the end of the Clasico, Bale was asked if he gave up hope after he was denied the winning goal. “No, not really because I knew we had a lot of pace on the counterattack. I still felt fresh and could sprint a lot more. We always felt we could hit them on the counterattack even with 10 men” he replied.
“I had seen him coming in the back post,” Bale said about his assist to Ronaldo. “I knew I had to flight it to get it over. Obviously I had to judge it. It was nice for it to drop to him and thankfully it went in.”
“We had a game plan. We know we’ve got speed on the counterattack so we used that to our advantage. We know obviously if you attack them they’re not the best defensive team in the world. They’re great at attacking so we worked on that in training and it has paid off.”
“We’ve got belief in ourselves and we’ve been working hard on our fitness in training. Maybe being out of the Copa del Rey helps a little bit: we’ve had less games. We’re feeling strong, confident now, and its one final push until the end of the season,” Bale continued. “Tonight really does put us mentally in a strong position. We can beat anyone on our day: we showed that. People have been saying Barcelona are the best team and we beat them in their own back yard tonight.”
“I think if the league’s still possible to win, then we fully believe we can do it,” Bale added. “We know it’s not going to be easy, it’s very against us, but if we give ourselves a chance that’s all we can do. The most important thing today was to get the win, build confidence for the rest of the season. There’s still the Champions League as well, which we’re really looking forward to. It’s about building and growing strong.”
The Clasico win was a massive boost for Madrid and blow for Barca. “That’s what we’re hoping for. If we want to win the league, this was a game we had to win,” commented Bale. “You never know, football does funny things to teams when you lose and you never know what could happen. All they need is a few bad results and we need a few good ones and we’re right back in.”
Bale continued to talk about La Liga’s biggest derby – El Clasico. “I’ve played in some big derbies, and this one is the biggest, even if we were out of the league to beat them is always sweet,” Bale added. “It wasn’t nice losing 4-0 at home and the main thing we wanted to win was get one up on them, especially in their own back yard. It’s all about momentum, pushing into the end of the season and hopefully we can take this performance in to the next.”
Bale remains realistic about the rest of Madrid’s campaign this season. “As I say, mentally, this puts us in a great position but we have to keep working hard. There’s a long way to go in the Champions League and the league and we still have to keep working hard and keep fighting all the way.”
Bale’s former Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur is in a good spot to possibly win the league trophy this season, and Real Madrid is in a sweet spot to win the Champions League and possibly the league trophy as well. “That would be great,” Bale said. “It would be the perfect end to the season.”
2016 El Clasico Teams
Both titan Spanish clubs played their strongest sides.
Bravo; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Subs: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Bartra, Rafinha, Munir, Turan, Vermaelen
Navas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Subs: Casilla, Nacho, Rodríguez, Vázquez, Jesé, Isco, Danilo
Top 2015 – 2016 Spanish La Liga Goal Scorers
Cristiano Ronaldo has 29 goals to his credit in the Spanish La Liga 2015-16 campaign to date; Luis Suarez has 26 goals; Lionel Messi has 22 goals; Neymar has 21 goals; Karim Benzema has 21 goals; Antoine Griezmann has 19 goals; Aritz Aduriz has 17 goals; Borja Baston has 17 goals; Ruben Castro has 16 goals; Gareth Bale has 15 goals; Lucas Perez Goddy has 15 goals; and Kevin Gameiro has 14 goals.
Barcelona remain the favorites to win this season’s Spanish Primera League title, but after Madrid’s victory, excitement has returned to the battle for La Liga silverware. A single match in the upcoming weeks may put Atletico Madrid up top.
Spanish Primera League Tickets
As the Spanish football season enters the final decisive weeks, the fight to the finish continues between Barca and Atletico, but of course Los Blancos cannot be counted out.
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