5 Things We Learnt From Real Madrid vs Barcelona

So that's the first El Clasico of the season out of the way, but what did we learn from that fiery affair at the Bernabéu?
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1) There is a reason why Valdes is Spain's number three...

It's not rocket science, for the first 15 minutes of any big game the number one rule is do not take any risks, if your unsure always do the simple thing. Somebody forgot to inform Victor Valdes of this. 22 seconds had elapsed when the keeper was far too casual and gifted the ball to Real and Benzema punished him with a nicely taken vollied finish. Valdes's antics did not end there he was nightmarish throughout almost gifting Madrid a couple more goals sadly for Mourinho his side couldn't capitalise. So despite winning everything under the sun with Barca he is the undoubted weak link in an all star team and is surely the only fragile link in their ranks purely based upon the fact that conceding looked likely every time Valdes had the ball at his feet.

2) Messi is the BEST player in the world...

What else can you say about Lionel Messi that hasn't already been said?

The Argentinian maestro is quite simply a joy to watch. When he dribbles the ball you could be excused for thinking that it is glued to his foot. He excites fans and causes alarm in defenders at the same rate, to such an extent that Mourinho set up his side to do everything within their power to neutralise the little man.

Although he didn't have an amazing game by his standards, the way he weaved around the Madrid defence before providing a beautifully weighted inch perfect pass that allowed Alexis Sanchez to slot home first time was mesmerising. So good that all the Barca player ran to congratulate the little magician and not the actual goalscorer.

Compare that to Ronaldo, considered Messi's main competition for the coveted Ballon d'Or award, who again went missing in yet another big game. He was anonymous all night long and when he did touch the ball it was merely to miss yet another golden opportunity, he has yet to open his account in an El Clasico encounter and missed two complete sitters, which rather embarrassingly for the Portuguese poster boy Barca capitalised upon by breaking up other end and scored immediately after both.

Messi has won everything the club game has to offer, as well being honoured with the Ballon D'or for the last two years, on the evidence of tonight only a fool would bet against him making it a hat-trick, especially with Ronaldo's non performance.

The Argentinian maestro is quite simply a joy to watch. When he dribbles the ball you could be excused for thinking that it is glued to his foot.

3) Worst game to referee in Europe...

What a thankless task referee David Fernández Borbalán had in such a high pressured contest that goes well beyond the realms of football. The result and aftermath of this clash divides the national press and fuels the bitter ethnic race rows that bubbles under the Spanish surface. Never mind attempting to quell the constant squabbling, keep a check on the blatant diving and do his level best to stop things exploding into pandemonium on the field.

Add to that the last match he officiated between the two was perhaps one of the action packed games ever witness compounded with racist chanting and a brawl involving both teams coaching staff.

Well done to the Borbalán for keeping things as calm as possible under testing circumstances. He could and maybe should have sent Lionel Messi off but overall he did well and prevented emotions from spilling over towards the end.

4) Barca are still the team to beat...

Madrid's recent record against Pep Guardiola's men is frankly awful now with just one win in their last 12 meetings including eight defeats. It had all started so promisingly, the stage was set, after a minute Madrid were 1-0 up, already three points clear at the top of the league with a game in hand, they surely thought this was their chance to show the world that they were finally back to being top dogs in Spain. Then Barca started to play, with Xavi pulling the strings, Messi and Iniesta displaying their poetic ball skills with Sanchez and Fabregas finishing their precise attacking moves with aplomb. Madrid in the end were well beaten and an eerie silence descended around the Bernabéu as the clock ticked down to the final whistle, white hankies were avidly waved but to no avail, Real will be disappointed not to have taken this opportunity, Barca interestingly played a slightly different game tonight, more reserved than usual but just as effective and they still deservedly reign in Spain.

Madrid in the end were well beaten and an eerie silence descended around the Bernabéu as the clock ticked down to the final whistle, white hankies were avidly waved but to no avail..

5) El Clasico is the greatest derby in World football...

There is no doubt in my mind that these two teams present the greatest collaboration of talent ever assembled on one pitch for one match. Both sides were the highest  scorers in the Champions League group stages with Barcelona netting 20 goals and Madrid scoring 19. It is also worth noting that since 1994/95, games at the Bernabéu between the pair guarantee goals, goals, goals averaging at least two goals per game played since then. Add to that World Cup winners aplenty and potentially the four greatest players on the planet.

Even with all the histrionics that usually detract from games, here they merely served to add spice to this compelling encounter. It simply has it all, the game is played in a wonderful stadium with arguably two of greatest managers in world football leading the rival sides. The tactics of the pair contrast brilliantly with the beautiful passing style of Barcelona in complete juxtaposition with the robust harrying nature of Madrid.

All these ingredients come together in this scintillating encounter that makes the Manchester Derby look like a school boy kick-around such is the gulf in quality and skill. A purely enjoyable watch with Barca deservedly winning.

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