Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, from Portugal, scores against FC Barcelona during a Spanish La Liga soccer match a at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Oh, so special!
Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory over rival Barcelona puts them on the cusp of breaking the Catalan giants' three-year grip on the Spanish league crown. Jose Mourinho’s marvelous tactical approach was on full display at Camp Nou Saturday night, giving Madrid added momentum towards their second leg Champions League match against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu. Yes, Real still needs to close out its remaining games in La Liga. But we can almost put this one to bed. Without further ado, here are the performances that stood out the most in Saturday’s El Clasico:
Very rarely do we designate a rating for a manager. But special games call for special rules, so we’ll break them just this once. For whatever reason, Guardiola did not partner Lionel Messi with Alexis Sanchez from the start. Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso all were giants and controlled Barcelona’s attack in the first half. With that being the case, why didn’t Pep use Pedro and Cesc Fabregas right after halftime? These will be questions the Barcelona manager will have to answer the days ahead. Rating 4.
Lionel Messi, F, Barcelona
For the wrong reasons this time, King Leo headlines our ratings list. Unable to get space to work in, the little man was not really a factor. The harder Barcelona tried to force the play through him, the less effective the attack was. Rating 6.
Cristian Tello, W/F, Barcelona
His contribution was almost entirely negative, even if he did take the shot which allowed Alexis Sanchez to equalize. Much of the night, Real was perfectly content to leave the Barca left side wide open because Tello was incapable of hurting them. Rating 5.
Daniel Alves, D, Barcelona
As was the case with Tello, he was the man Real "trusted" with possession. They allowed him to roam the right side, then cut off his attempts to cross. But after that, the Brazilian right back was relatively silent for the night. A true disappointment for Barcelona. Rating 6.
Cristiano Ronaldo, F, Real Madrid
Finally came better than good in El Clasico. He set the tone by taking Carles Puyol early off a give and go, scored the winner with a perfectly-timed run and sealed the Spanish player of the year award tonight. Rating 8.
Mesut Ozil, M, Real Madrid
Produced another of his masterful matches, creating just enough danger on the right to balance Ronaldo. 'Avatar eyes' was always there on defense, then unleashed the killer pass that decided the match. Next to Ronaldo, he is the man Madrid must have. Rating 8.
Iker Casillas, GK, Real Madrid
Set the tone from the start. He looked relaxed in the tunnel, commanded his box and was only beaten by a rebound no one could have done nothing about. His big save on a Xavi breakaway midway through the first half, was the most significant of the match. Rating 7.