El Clasico debutant Neymar scored the first goal that led his team into early domination, culminating in the 2-1 win for Barcelona in the first round of El Clasico.
Gareth Bale would have yearned for such success on his debut, but was instead surrounded with disappointment after failing to deliver in his 60 minutes on the field. Failing to produce goals, Gareth Bale’s first Clasico match was not exactly the experience he would have dreamt of –or one he will be in a hurry to relive- his biggest highlight was being booked.
Those who are familiar with the Spanish press will be aware of the criticism Ancelotti received due to his bizarre team selection – but more of the ‘next Kaka’ tag Bale has been handed after his start to life in the white of Real Madrid. Bale is but a scapegoat – unfortunately for the Welshman, that is something the Spanish press adore.
To place the blame solely on Bale would be grossly unfair – not only did the referee deny a clear penalty that, had it been Pepe on Messi, would have probably resulted in two penalties and a card, but the team selection was massively unbalanced.
Ancelotti seemed to have found his core eleven – yet for some reason chose the biggest game of the season to not only tinker with the side but change it entirely. To play Sergio Ramos in the middle of the park is odd enough in itself – but to have the defender, who is always a card waiting to happen, only begin to train in that position a day before the game is downright disastrous.
Add to this the omission of Isco – the star man of the season thus far – and also Karim Benzema and you have a completely unbalanced side.
You cannot ask Angel Di Maria, Ronaldo and Bale to all play together without a centre forward. They are far too similar for one thing, and overlapped far too often. Add to this the issue of no one being a natural number nine and the club struggling with no one up top when moves were created and it becomes clear to see that a half fit Gareth Bale was the least of Ancelotti’s worries post match.
Yes there was pressure on Bale, and he was disappointing, but so were the rest of the Madrid squad – including Cristiano Ronaldo. It is telling that as soon as Karim Benzema came onto the field, the team looked far more balanced and lo and behold, scored.
It had been billed as a clash of the titans – and one that the world was watching, but ended up being a tame game in which had Real Madrid been in better shape, they could have easily gotten something out of Barcelona, who were there for the taking.
Should the Catalan side come up against Bayern Munich again this season – or even Chelsea, they will be mighty lucky to come through the tie. Yes, they are still very good, but their aura is most certainly not what it once was.
Neymar was of course the other Clasico debutant and showed why he is rated so highly. The Brazilian youngster hammered in the opening goal and was one of the better players whilst on the field.
There was also an excellent goal from Alexis Sanchez who once again oozed class – and showed that he is far too good for the bench.
Both Bale and Real have a lot of work to do – six points behind Barcelona is not the end of the world, but more performances and team selections like that and it may as well be 60.
What were your thoughts on the Clasico? Let us know your thoughts below.