By Stephen Crawford
Two of the world's biggest rivals clashed on Saturday night in a Clasico match that was billed by many as the most important and pivotal fixture of the players' and coaches' careers alike.
It seemed the majority were preparing themselves for Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid – who hadn't lost in 15 matches – to finally overcome Pep Guardiola's history-making Barcelona side.
However, rather poetically, quite the opposite happened, as the Blaugrana leapfrogged their rivals and now find themselves neatly perched at the top of the Spanish Primera Division with little time to bask in the glory as they prepare for the Club World Cup in Japan.
As is the case with any Clasico, there is much to talk about in the wake of Saturday's match, and Goal.com has once again taken to Facebook and Twitter – as well as scouring the comments left on our many reaction pieces – to take a look at the opinions left by our readers.
Here is our selection of the best:
Much was made of how the revered coaches would approach the match in terms of tactics and personnel, and one impartial India-based fan who goes by the handle 'Neutral', feels Real Madrid's Portuguese boss could have done better.
“Mourinho made some mistakes:
1. Arbeloa should have played at right back.
2. Coentrao should have played at left back.
3. Kaka should have replaced Di Maria, not Ozil, because every attack was created by Ozil and destroyed by either Ronaldo or Di Maria. Both are selfish.
Ozil performs so well with the German national team because he gets his passes back, which is not happening with Real Madrid.”
In the same boat, Amir Hamed from Barca pointed out where he thinks Mourinho went wrong: “Mou substituted Di Maria, who was almost the best player of Madrid, and kept Ronaldo on the pitch who was the worst player of the match.”
Sam from Singapore agrees: “Once again CR7 did absolutely nothing in a big game,” while Joey Fung A Loi added that he feels Ronaldo “can only score versus easy teams”.
Staying on the subject of Ronaldo, the general feedback for the Ballon d'Or candidate was quite negative on the whole:
“Ronaldo was lost in the game. Messi did well though not in his usual superhuman spectacular fashion. Iniesta was brightest star on the pitch and Di Maria and Benzema were the only Madrid players that actually turned up to the tune and tempo of the game. Those are the three best players on the night. Messi tops Ronaldo,” says Apologun Ganiu Omeiza.
However, some other commenters were more direct with their opinions: “Flop of the match is Ronaldo,” writes Lloyd Miller, while Ojoye Samson Oluwagbenga simply says: “Ronaldo's selfishness killed Madrid.”
As we've seen already, many brought the Portuguese's rivalry with Lionel Messi into focus, with Anene Lotanna Tochy giving his answer to the “same old question” regarding who is better: “the answer remains unchanged... MESSI.” Azeez Babatunde disagrees, though: “Ronaldo played well more than Messi, but luck was not on the side of his team.”
The diminutive Argentine picked up a yellow card for mouthing off to the referee in the first half, and had a heart-in-mouth moment when a late tackle saw the official reach for his pocket before realising he had booked the forward moments before. This, of course, sparked rage amongst Madrid fans.
“Why was Messi not red carded? Was it because it's Messi? I don't like this double standard. If it had been a Madrid player it would have been a red,” writes Lykmora from Lagos, Nigeria.
And the sentiments of Sabiru Bello are the same: “Barca always get the better of Madrid with the backing of the refs. Messi should have been sent off in the first half. Imagine if a Madrid player had done that – it would have been a red card.”
Despite the match's many talking points, most were fixated on the subject of tactics as the battle for managerial superiority in La Liga rages on.
Roxanne Ali writes: “Pep is the ultimate tactician. Mourinho and Madrid have been taught another lesson!”
And while Oluwayemi Samuel Ayobami would love for Jose to “admit for once that your tactics were woeful,” Raymond Rono urges us not to jump the gun: “don't forget Mourinho has succeeded with EVERY team he's ever coached.”
True indeed, Raymond, but Yanusa Lawal is more concerned by the boss' managerial style, writing: “All he does is buy trophies by wasting club money. He never builds a team that endures [once he moves on] – any team he coaches struggles because of his quick-fix approach. Chelsea and Inter are haunted by his extravagant style, they are struggling now because he did not put a structure in place. Pep is better than this money waster.”
However, Adeleke Theophilus Ayodeji believes that “Mourinho is still the best. As long as Mourinho still has a chance of winning the league then losing a match is not a failure.”
Madrid got off to the best possible start in the clash as Karim Benzema took advantage of a loose pass from Victor Valdes, and Hiro from Japan was unforgiving with his comments on Barcelona's number one: “Valdez should be sacked for that blatant careless mistake.”
And finally, Abdelhamid Morsy feels he has the answer to Los Blancos' problems, writing: “Madrid need Zidane back if they are to beat Barca...”