Yesterdays Round 29 Spanish Football Liga “Clasico” between Real Madrid & FC Barcelona has feed many headlines to the main communications channels (traditional & digital) with plenty of juicy issues to debate & squeeze into chewable media content for the masses. The 3 – 4 final result in favour of FC Barcelona not only brought Barça closer to Real Madrid in the Liga title race but puts a third contender firmly in the picture Atletico de Madrid which currently enjoys the Top position of the classification table. As the more "opened minded" Football observers are now saying…“we now have Liga”; an entertaining, emotional & competitive last 9 Rounds of the season that departs from the duopoly of past years.

Instead of rejoicing the spectacle witnessed yesterday of Football at its highest level & the 7 goals scored, everyone is talking about the legitimacy of the penalties given & those not called, the red card to Sergio Ramos & the shocking unsanctioned “step on the head” by Barça midfielder Sergi Busquets on Pepe. Real Madrid players, especially Cristiano Ronaldo & Sergio Ramos who voiced their opinion to media post match, see a “black-hand” over their Club & that referee Undiano purposely attempted to balance his mistakes throughout the match favouring FC Barcelona in his decisions.

While the crossfire smoke blankets the atmosphere in a dark unseeing haze, no one mentions that FC Barcelona won because they took their opportunities & were more effective. They simply outplayed Real Madrid without being brilliant, & being practical without being too theoretical. But there is another issue closer to home for Real Madrid, the bad tactical decisions of Coach Ancelotti & his assistants, once again.

Spanish Football

Real Madrid Coach Carlos Ancelotti hailed pre-match that it was now time that he finally beat FC Barcelona, a feat he has not done under Chelsea, Paris St Germain or Real Madrid. The Italian has not calculated a “right way” yet with Barça, the last being the “Camp Nou” clash when he placed Sergio Ramos as a defensive midfielder that turned out a disaster & in the sending off Ramos leaving his team with 10 men.

The “tactical moment” yesterday night for Ancelotti came with the sending off with a red card of Sergio Ramos. Real Madrid was leading 3-2 & the equalizer from the given penalty was obvious & imminent. Coach Ancelotti made the decision to take off the best player on the field & for Real Madrid, Karim Benzema, to bring on defender Rafael Varane. The idea was correct but the choice of player was the error. Real Madrid Coach should have taken off Gareth Bale who was doing little & looked lost all night, instead of betting on pace down bought wings ( & a draw implicitly) . What effectiveness is there for wingers if there is not reference point upfront? That is, no natural forward to receive the ball, protect it, wait for the incorporation of other team-mates & continue play? The mistake was tacitly recognized when Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti brought on Alvaro Morata with a few minutes left. Why? Why take off Benzema beforehand.

The other mistake was not anticipating & finding a solution for Lionel Messi & the position he was placed. FC Barcelona Coach Martino turned Messi into a more traditional midfielder allowing the Argentine to find more space & worst, more “thinking time”. Although Messi played a relatively normal game ( to habitual standards ) his two passes (assists) were decisive; the first for the Iniesta opening goal & the second that found Neymar that lead to the foul that gave his team a penalty & Sergio Ramos a red card.

How could Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti not seen the danger & placed a man ( or shared duties ) to follow the Argentine? The physical efforts of Di Maria in the 1º half ( had came out of the flu days before ) caused a drop later in his performance in the second half as he was forced to apply more defensive actions. Would Isco been the appropriate solution perhaps? Help keep an eye on Messi allow with his freshness? 

The rest of the analysis for Real Madrid falls onto the playing field. They let off the “hook” Barça when they were up 2 – 1. They allowed a “knocked – out" Barça to pick themselves up from the canvass. Two clear misses by Benzema ( great saves from Valdes & Pique ) that if converted would have changed the course of the game & the final result. FC Barcelona is the last side in World Football to allow do a “Lazarus act” to rise from the dead, it is a dangerous action & a losing proposition. It was clear last night – as all season – that defensively speaking Barça are vulnerable,  & susceptible to lowering their heads if things get passed their control. It nearly did but the Barça experience of big time Football pulled them through & this is a merit that cannot be denied.

Big mistakes by Real Madrid last night, tactically & Football wise, that are being conveniently brushed under the carpet while the focus remains on the “crossfire” of “dirty dealings” , “suspicious referee behaviour” & the ongoing “conspiracy theory”.
Add in a woeful & shocking act of aggression by Barça midfielder Busquets on Real Madrid defender Pepe, & you have heated emotional debate guaranteed for days & days.

The two will meet again in the Final of the Spanish Cup, & may meet up in the Champions League semi-finals if both manage to shake off their quarter-final opponents. Will Real Madrid & their Coach Carlo Ancelotti finally learn their lessons? 

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