Real Madrid regains sovereignty by winning the “Clasico” (2-0)

Real Madrid players celebrate victory at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Sunday March 1.
Real Madrid players celebrate victory at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Sunday March 1. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Cornered, French Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane took on yet another big challenge by winning the "Clasico" of the 26e La Liga day against FC Barcelona Sunday 1st March (2-0), with successful bets.

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"Zizou" placed his confidence in Toni Kroos, reinstalled as holder by the French technician for the "Clasico" after his absence Wednesday against Manchester City in the Champions League, who was a decisive passer for the goal of Vinicius (71e). Another bet with Mariano Diaz, scorer a few seconds after entering the game (90e+2), which sealed the victory and, by that very fact, the first place of the classification found of the "White House".

"Sunday is an opportunity to change things", repeated Zinedine Zidane since Wednesday's setback against Manchester City in the knockout stages of the Champions League at the Santiago-Bernabeu (2-1), then at a press conference on Saturday.

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An opportunity to get the "White House" out of the bad patch in which it was engaged: in lack of goals and with a worrying defensive fragility, the Madrilenians approached the "Clasico" on a series of three games without a win. But the Merengue prodigal technician has again proven his quality with paying tactical choices.

Master strokes signed "Zizou"

The Brazilian Vinicius (19), appreciated for his speed but strongly criticized for his lack of efficiency in the surface, again entered the zone of truth many times on Sunday, until this bright opening by the German Toni Kroos , preserved Wednesday, which allowed him to open the score (71e) … and dare to harangue the public who came to show him their support.

The strong anchor in the midfield, the entry into play of Brahim Diaz, preferred to Luka Jovic and scorer (90e+2), and the tenure of Isco on the right wing, preferred to Gareth Bale, were also many master strokes signed "ZZ", since the Spaniard was the main threat to Marc-André ter Stegen, with this superb curled punch well chased by the right hand by the doorman blaugrana (56e), or with this recovery of the head (60e) stopped on the line by Gerard Piqué, in stride.

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While the two teams tackled this “Clasico” return from Liga with defenses surrounded by questions and far from being waterproof, Real Madrid found their defensive duo Sergio Ramos-Raphaël Varane, solid Sunday, while the white captain became the player with the most “Clasico” contested in history (44, ahead of Manuel Sanchiz's 43).

Lionel Messi absent

Barça, too, has long stood firm against Merengue assaults. Pique returned to his best after his sprained ankle on Tuesday, but that was not enough. The Catalans had more difficulty controlling the pace of the game, and had to run behind the ball for much of the match, resisting the white waves.

French world champion Antoine Griezmann had two scoring chances, but the first (18e) was cleared by Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane, and the second passed over the frame (21e). But it was above all the absence of Lionel Messi (26 goals in 42 "Clasicos") who hit the match. Ghostly, the sixfold Ballon d'Or was far from its level Sunday evening, and precipitated the fall of Barça for the first "Clasico" of Quique Setién on the Catalan bench.

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Barça is therefore back behind Real in the standings, and the race for the title is definitely not yet finished between the two giants of Spanish football.

The World with AFP


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