We have discovered that a Classic is the only game that should not be played without an audience. The social relief that the beautiful game represents at this point in the pandemic is evident. That something works when everything else does not work as it should. The habit of watching matches. Of disconnecting from the overload of politically-charged coronaviruses. Everything is to be welcomed, except a Real Madrid-Barcelona. It is very hard to assimilate a match of these dimensions without the chorus inside and outside the stadiums. The TV does what it can and heats up those 90 minutes with images from other times. They describe it as the last match of the decade and make reports announcing that it could be the last Messi Classic.
The Classic was launched to tell the world that La Liga is still on. That Messi is still with Barça and that Spain still has a Real Madrid-Barcelona as its star product. The wrapping was good but the candy inside was one of those sugar-free ones that don't fill the palate. They played the best and that means that Griezmann is no longer one of them. His airlift to Barcelona was the Frenchman's worst business.
Messi in Barça is already the Messi of Argentina. Surrounded by players who are not up to it. Young people with potential but who do not play for the Argentinean. His crooked nose might go with Bartomeu or maybe he will leave next summer. Griezmann has gone on to suffer the Messi effect but in reverse: a crack with his national team and a player lost in his club. Not playing as a starter in the Classic says a lot about Koeman and very little about the Frenchman.
Barça's wicks are there. Young players with a lot of quality, committed veterans and Messi. Koeman can make a beautiful football with that team but he will not have time. The stormy institutional life will wipe out the past in a few months and that will involve the coach. In the Classic we saw what they want to play and the goal of the draw is the resurrection of Alba and the consecration of Ansu Fati. The defense is slow and does not have good coordination. Piqué doesn't see the football on his back and Lenglet doesn't improve him.
VAR was again in the limelight with Real Madrid. Last season it took several matches thanks to video arbitration. Most of the decisions were right. Statistically, the more you step into the area, the more things can happen. There were never any dark horses. In the Clásico, VAR brought Real Madrid back to life. A Lenglet grip on Ramos in a corner. Rather, Lenglet grabs Ramos' shirt too long. The Sevillian exaggerates his fall and, perhaps, does not even prevent him from finishing because the ball passed far away, but the image of that stretched out shirt could not be allowed to pass. Penalty and the 1-2 for Real Madrid that does not usually lose these advantages.
Barça were not able to corner the whites. It did not make him suffer in the final minutes. Messi did not throw the team on its back and there was no reference above. In Real Madrid, either. Benzema was again that excellent player outside the area and gave the pass of the first goal to Valverde. But also a striker with no aim for the goal with another clear chance that crashed against the goalkeeper. Finally Zidane entered his office during the week and read the reports that said Modric had been playing four games in 10 days plus the trips with his national team. Valverde and Asensio came in and the midfield worked better. The Majorcan must be the pillar on which Real Madrid moves and for that he needs minutes and initiative.
The first Real Madrid-Barcelona to be played without an audience and in times of pandemics identified with the landscape. Insulted and anodyne after the first two goals. More than 80 minutes of slow football. Insecure defenders and explosive players with a desire to wage their wars because they know that the future is theirs. Vinicius has decided to grow in his own way and running is the only school he knows.
Real Madrid is the leader and Barça is in 12th place with a game in hand. This asymmetric and asynchronous league that awaits us will not give any surprises. Both teams will end up playing for the title because Sevilla has already shown signs of not being able to physically endure the league and the Champions. Atlético has those days without goals and without football that make it lose points. And there are no more candidates on the horizon. A sad Classic. A sad Classic.