Football Features

“He spent the game flopping around like a carp” – Every player rated as El Clásico ends 0-0

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 21:20, 18 December 2019

In a dismal night of football, Barcelona and Real Madrid played out the first 0-0 Clásico since 2002.

Real Madrid pressed well but looked clueless with the ball when they actually got it, whilst Barcelona were trying to play on the break with the world’s least mobile 32-year-old striker up-front and an utterly abysmal midfield. There was more passion being shown outside the stadium with the Catalan protests than on the field. The last Clásico of the decade was comfortably its worst; with the most interesting thing being helicopter sounds bleeding through onto the broadcast audio.

Here’s how the players rated at Camp Nou:

Barcelona

Marc-André Ter Stegen – 8 – An immense performance.

Nelson Semedo – 4 – Looked solid enough defensively but was too timid with the ball at his feet. Withdrawn early in the second half as Barcelona looked to up the ante.

Gerard Piqué – 9 – Colossus. Cleared an early header off the line and marshalled the Barcelona back-line brilliantly – his 10 clearances and 2 interceptions were both game-highs. Probably the only Blaugrana outfielder to emerge with genuine credit in the game.

Clement Lenglet – 7 – A calm display. Some absolutely massive passes out of defence and a couple of tasty blocks.

Jordi Alba – 4 – Should have opened the scoring in the first half. Made some typical searing runs but used the ball so poorly.

Ivan Rakitic – 3 – Struggled with the movement of Isco, but otherwise defended well. However, his passing was painfully slow, you could almost see the cogs in his head turning as he had Barcelona moving so slowly that Madrid could always get back and cover. Sergio Busquets’ absence was palpable.

Sergi Roberto – 4 – A passenger in midfield, a non-event at right-back.

Frenkie de Jong – 7 – Kept out of the first hour by poor passes from his team-mates, but on occasion he had the ball in a comfortable position usually initiated a superb passing attack. Came into it at the end with some bright play but was crying out for Busquets and Arthur to link with.

Lionel Messi – 5 – Not at it. Hardly helped by the awful midfield behind him but was guilty of some sloppy play of his own. Battled well as the game drew to a close but never got going.

Antoine Griezmann – 6 – Worked relentlessly on the defensive end and looked bright in attack. Probably would have had a greater impact but looked tired from all the defending he had to do. Subbed off late just as he was warming to the task.

Luis Suárez – 2 – Looked well off the pace. Clearly couldn’t match the athleticism of the Madrid centre-backs and in fact wouldn’t even try to run at them, killing several attacks by simply turning back and passing to team-mates rather than have a go. Showed some good moments of chest control but spent the majority of the game flopping around like a carp. Abysmal.

Substitutes:

Arturo Vidal (for Semedo 56) – 7 – Added a lot of drive and clarity to Barcelona’s midfield.

Ansu Fati (for Griezmann 83) – N/A – Came on too late to impact the game. Should have been introduced sooner.

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Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 7 – Did what little he had to do quite well.

Dani Carvajal – 6 – Not at his fearsome best but still a marauding force in attack. Got rinsed by Alba a few times early on but recovered.

Raphael Varane – 7 – Cool, calm, collected and composed.

Sergio Ramos – 8 – A massive clearance off the line to prevent a Casemiro own goal and a massive block tackle from a Luis Suárez shot. Beyond that he was his typical argumentative self.

Ferland Mendy – 7 – Ran and ran. Then ran some more. A constant outlet on the left and solid at the back in a way Marcelo never is.

Casemiro – 8 – A tackle-machine as always. Made a game-high five tackles and was constantly working to shut Barcelona down and drive Madrid forward with some impressive passes. Had an early header cleared off the line.

Fede Valverde – 7 – Ran Ivan Rakitic off the pitch. Kept Barcelona on their toes with some impressive snapshots from distance. A dynamo as always before being taken off with 10 minutes to go.

Toni Kroos – 6 – Passed the ball a lot, spreading the play nicely. But was at his best when shooting from range.

Gareth Bale – 6 – A quiet night. Once again had a Clásico goal ruled out for offside.

Isco – 8 – A game-changing presence in the first-half. His every touch wreaked havoc on the Barcelona defence. Faded badly after half-time and began making lots of fouls. Subbed late on.

Karim Benzema – 7 – Elusive and erudite as ever. Kept attacks ticking over with some gorgeous passes and flicks.

Substitutes:

Luka Modric (for Valverde 80) – 7 – Didn’t do too much but produced the pass of the match, a sensational ball that split Barcelona open and put Bale through, only for the Welshman to fumble the touch and wreck the attack.

Rodrygo (for Isco 80) – 5 – Never got into it.

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