When the final whistle blew at the Bernabeu in the first of the four Clasicos between Real Madrid and Barcelona, it was kick-off time for the Spanish media. The two most successful and widely followed football clubs in the country share a unique rivalry and that extends to the partisan publications in the nation.
Madrid are largely and staunchly backed by two major national dailies, Marca and AS, and it comes as no surprise that both the sports papers perceive the point shared with Pep Guardiola’s team on Saturday evening as an encouraging sign.
With an image of Pepe clenching his fists on its main page after Cristiano Ronaldo’s successfully converted penalty kick, Marca explains that although the nine-time European champions failed to win, they “kept their pride” in a game that was “vibrant and controversial”, adding that although the league is now over for them, they will “head into the final of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday with their heads held high”.
AS praised Mourinho’s side who drew the match despite going down to 10 men after defender Raul Albiol was sent off. It defined the game as a “tie between football and passion” with writer Juanma Trueba commenting that the encounter was “in many ways perfect for Mourinho, who avoided defeat despite ending the game with 10 men”.
Trueba also supported the Portuguese in his complaint that Daniel Alves should have been sent off after his challenge on Barcelona in the penalty area in the second-half that earned Madrid the spot-kick.
Understandably, the Catalan media were going gaga over Barcelona’s draw that effectively secures them the Liga title. With six more rounds of matches remaining in the championship this season, they are eight points clear at the top of the table.
The front page of the web edition of Catalan daily Sport reads “In Madrid, the title” with the image of Lionel Messi beating Iker Casillas from the spot spread under it. The paper believes that it “ was a shame” that Barcelona’s “superiority” did not pay off and that they did not get their due reward.
El Mundo Deportivo explains that the match was uneven and that Barcelona deserved to gain maximum points. Referee Muniz Fernandez comes under the spotlight for his decisions too.
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Four Clasicos in 18 days - and you can follow them all with Goal.com:
Apr 16: La Liga
9pm BST - Bernabeu
Apr 20: Copa Del Rey final
9pm BST - Mestalla, Valencia
Apr 27: Champions League semi, 1st leg
7.45 BST - Bernabeu
May 3: Champions League semi 2nd leg
7.45 BST - Nou Camp
In Italy, Turin-based and Juventus-leaning Tuttosport wrote off Madrid’s chances of winning the league, saying that Mourinho has waved goodbye to the title, while La Corriere Dello Sport also followed a similar tone.
In England, one of the few mainstream media to genuinely report on European football in detail, The Guardian, has been constrained regarding the Clasico, bearing just a report on its official website. Entitled “Ronaldo rescues Real Madrid to shock Barcelona in El Clasico” the report focused on how “Real Madrid all but relinquished the league title and yet when the final whistle blew, there was a huge roar from the Santiago Bernabeu” because for them the match “shifted from fatalism to optimism in 10 unexpected second-half minutes”.
The Telegraph backed the Catalan giants to have won the Primera Division title with the draw, claiming that it has “all but ensured Barcelona’s coronation as Spanish champions for a third straight season” but underlined that lack of drama that “did not quite match the exotic wonders on display in the same fixture last November, when Barcelona won 5-0”.
Over in Argentina, the initial response in the Argentine press has been calm with Ole focusing on an objectively written match report but adds that the draw does not end the Clasico World Series here.
Former Brazil president Lula da Silva went to attend the match at the Bernabeu and ahead of the match enthused: "These are glory days for the Spanish people; to have four Clasicos in less than a month is something unprecedented. Two of the best teams in the world will come head-to-head in coming weeks. I can't say I prefer one of them to win, but I believe Kaka may play an important role. I hope Spanish football fans are thrilled by a great show."
It was indeed a brilliant show and it will only get better in the upcoming three encounters.