Football : Five things we learned from El Clasico

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos rescued a draw and maintained the European champions’ six-point lead at the top of La Liga in a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Saturday.

Here, AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from from El Clasico.
Ramos scores big goals

Not for the first time Real were bailed out by their inspired captain as Ramos rose highest to power home Luka Modric’s free-kick as the game entered stoppage time.

It was a move eerily reminiscent of Ramos’s stoppage time equaliser that ultimately led to Real defeating Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final.

The Spanish international also netted a last minute equaliser in Real’s UEFA Super Cup victory over Sevilla in August.
Barca blow huge chance

With 89 minutes on the clock, Barca looked to have kickstarted their title defence by ending Real’s 32-game unbeaten run in their hour of need.

Instead, the Catalans were made to pay for huge chances missed by Neymar and Lionel Messi with the score at 1-0.

Once again their defensive weakness from set-pieces was exploited as they dropped points for the fourth time in seven home league games this season.
Modric increasingly influential

One of the most impressive features of Real’s long unbeaten run is that they coped without Modric for a month after knee surgery in October.

The Croatian ran the game for the first 45 minutes as Real frustrated Barca and then produced a pinpoint free-kick for Ramos to apply the finishing touch.

Whilst Cristiano Ronaldo tends to hog the headlines, Modric is now increasingly the man around which Madrid’s whole game plan is based.
Barca a different team with Iniesta

For Modric at Madrid, read Andres Iniesta for Barcelona.

The Spanish veteran was introduced after a two-month injury absence early in the second period and Barca were transformed.

Barca boss Luis Enrique described their display last week in a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad as the worst of his tenure, but with Iniesta back so was some of the old Barca magic.

One pass in particular that freed Messi was sublime and deserved a better finish from the Argentine.
Poor Clasico decided by two set plays

With an estimated TV audience of 650 million around the globe, including official La Liga events in New Delhi, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Shanghai and Beijing, La Liga are betting big on their two biggest draws to help rival the worldwide popularity of the Premier League.

However, despite the late drama, this was one of the poorer affairs offered up by Barca and Madrid in recent seasons.

Far from inspired moments of magic from the likes of Messi or Ronaldo, both goals came from free headers at set-pieces thanks to poor marking.

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