The week in five words
Zinedine Zidane won’t be fired.
What went well
Perhaps Zinedine Zidane is some kind of prophet. Or maybe the Real Madrid manager has a really good mattress; one of those that moves up and down with a remote control.
Coach Zizou announced on Friday that he was planning to sleep very well indeed ahead of his first Clásico as manager. Apparently the shut-eye was of a good quality, with Zidane a fairly chilled figure on the touchline.
The Frenchman had apparently nailed down a gameplan to survive the Camp Nou cauldron and it was executed to perfection, even factoring in the inevitable Sergio Ramos meltdown and sending off.
The prime directive in Saturday’s Clasico was to avoid a repeat of the 4-0 humiliation at the Santiago Bernabeu in November and give his players a morale boost, lest the two teams be drawn against each other in the Champions League. A win was an added bonus, but it was a victory which came to pass after Madrid survived the early storm and waited till Barcelona downed tools to grab a late victory.
In the short term, the victory did little in terms of the title race. Too big of a gap to close on Barcelona, with too little time.
But the match was all about the medium-to-long term – as Marcelo put it, to restore the debt owed to fans. It will also help Zidane to start building the credit needed to work over the squad over the summer, and persuade Florentino Pérez that all the decisions should be made by him and him alone. That task will make beating Barcelona easy-peasy in comparison.
The post-Clásico photo from the Real Madrid team that defeated Barcelona was close to being a modern classic – apart from one slight intruder. A plonker on the left-hand side – the only one in his underwear, naturally – using what was an apparently spontaneous moment of relief and jubilation to show off his flexed, chiseled torso. Again.
A team photo, but very much a duck face-pouting selfie at the same time. It was a reminder and perhaps another nudge to Ronaldo as to why that Real Madrid collective still find it hard to take the player to their hearts despite the billions of goals over the years.
Quote of the week
With a simple one-liner, it's easy to see why Real Madrid supporters find it so easy to forgive and yet forget another red-card transgression from Sergio Ramos.
“If I knew that we would win with 10 anyway, I’d have got sent off after five minutes!”
The need-to-know facts
- Real Madrid hadn't not come back from a losing position to win in the Camp Nou for 51 years.
- Real Madrid are now 93-91 up in wins in official Clasico matches.
- Their last victory over Barcelona came back in October 2014. Madrid won the game 3-1 that day.
- Real Madrid have won 4 league games in a row, their best run with Zidane in charge.
- Karim Benzema hadn’t scored against Barcelona at Camp Nou since January 2012.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in 4 of his last 5 matches against Barcelona.
- Keylor Navas has conceded twice as many goals against Barcelona (14) than against any other team in La Liga.
Gif of the week
Pretty much sums up the Madridista mood this weekend.
— CentikDavid (@CentikDavid) April 2, 2016
Winner of the week
Casemiro. Confucius says that the fundamental reason for Real Madrid’s downfall in the 4-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu was Rafa Benítez's decision to start with an XI that the president wanted and not the one the Spaniard manager knew he had to play.
Zidane was not going to make the same mistake, electing to keep James Rodríguez on the bench for the entirety of the game. Even one of the world’s most expressive and creative midfielders of all time recognises the need for a hard-working, hard-tackling tank in the centre of the park, and that’s what he has in Casemiro.
Loser of the week
Sergio Ramos. Nit-picking perhaps, but the combination of the clumsiness and hot-heated nature of Sergio Ramos could have seen the footballer getting his marching orders after just 24 minutes for a late challenge on Leo Messi. That would have been problematic for Madrid.
Ramos then offered up numerous opportunities for the referee to send him packing, before going for it with just minutes to go in the game. While the Real Madrid stopper is unfairly picked upon at times, 21 career red cards for Madrid suggest that Ramos isn't always the victim he may claim.
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