Real Madrid won the big derby game against arch-rivals Barcelona, 2-1, and hope to defend their La Liga title.

Leo Messi Barcelona
Leo Messi leaving the pitch in sadness on what could be his final appearance in a Barcelona shirt in El Clasico. (Image: Twitter/ESPN_FC)

Benzema opened the scoring after 13 minutes, with a fantastic backheel that paralyzed Barcelona’s defense and German keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen.

Kroos made it 2-0 with the help of a double-deflection following a free-kick from the edge of the box, in the 28th minute. Valverde could have put the game behind all doubt, but he hit the post with a great effort following a perfect pass from Brazilian wunderkind Vinicius.

Just before the teams could go to their dressing rooms at halftime, Messi missed two huge chances of bringing Barcelona back into the game. First, his amazing shot straight from a corner hit Courtois’ post in the first minute of added time, then the Belgian keeper was forced into a save following another Messi attempt at 45+3.

Barcelona screamed for penalty late iná game

In the second half, Barcelona got one back thanks to Oscar Mingueza’s goal in the 60th minute. For 21-year-old Mingueza it was his first El Clasico appearance ever. The defender is a product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy and he only made it to the first team this season. Another youngster, 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba, could have given Barca a point from their game in Madrid. Ilaix hit the crossbar with his effort from the box in extra time.

Barcelona’s keeper, Ter Stegen, also went up in the final minute of added time, with the German having a shot blocked right after the ball bounced back from Moriba’s attempt. In the 84th minute, Barcelona asked for a penalty to be awarded following a touch from Ferland Mendy on Martin Braithwaite in the Real Madrid box, but ref Gil Manzano was told from the VAR room that nothing illegal happened, to the outrage of the “Barcelona nation.”

“We are really angry because of the situation with the penalty,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said immediately after the game for Barca TV. “That’s not fair play. If you don’t give the penalty … I don’t understand that.”

Messi’s last stand at El Clasico?

The heavy rain in Madrid made it difficult for the players to express themselves. Messi had a tough time in particular. In the 80th minute, the cameras showed him trembling heavily. The six-time ‘Ballon d’Or’ winner asked for a new shirt and was given one for the last 10 minutes in the game.

Messi had seven shots (two on goal, five blocked) and success of 89% for his passes. All seven of his dribbling attempts were successful. In total, Barcelona had 18 attempts, four more than their rivals. Eleven came from open play but only one was converted. The two teams spent 41% of the playing time in Real Madrid’s home third, almost twice as much as in Barcelona’s territory-23%.

Messi runs out of contract in the summer and hasn’t made any decision on his future public by now. Barcelona’s fans fear it could be his last outing in a game against Real Madrid. Messi hasn’t scored in El Clasico in his past seven attempts now. He is goalless in front of Real Madrid since 2018.

Bookies seem to believe Messi is going to continue his career at Camp Nou. Leo is at -230 to go on with Barcelona. A move to Manchester City is at +300, with PSG at +500. MLS is an unlikely destination for the 33-year-old at +900.

Just 1 point separates Real, Atletico and Barcelona

Atletico is yet to play in the 30th round, but the title race is more heated than ever. Right now, Real and Atletico are tied at 66 points, with Barcelona coming right below at 65. Real has met both its title rivals in the second part of the season. Barcelona and Atletico still have to face each other on 9 May, in Catalonia.

Barcelona, Real, and Atletico Madrid are all between +270 and +300 to lift the trophy at the end of May. With 23 goals so far to his name this season, four more than Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno, Leo Messi is a staggering -1600 to win top goalscorer after the campaign! Moreno is at +1700, while Benzema, who netted 18 times, is at +1500.

Barcelona Real Madrid title race
The gap between Real Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona stands at 1 point with 8 more games left