EL Classico | Three Truths You Should Know

Real Madrid are down but not out

The pain of Sunday's loss will linger around the Bernabeu for a long time, but Real Madrid are still the best team in Spain. It took a performance of the ages from Lionel Messi to beat Zinedine Zidane’s excellent side, and even when down to 10 men the hosts looked the better of the Clasico sides.

Judging the importance of this result won’t be truly impossible until the destination of the Liga title is decided, but Real shouldn’t panic – they are still in the driving seat. Barca may be top, but the Madrid side have a game in hand and are playing the better football of the two. It should still be Real who win the title.

Man-for-man, in most positions on the field, Los Blancos are superior to their biggest rivals. The biggest challenge for Zidane now will be not allowing such a morale-sapping loss to derail what was building into an historic season.

Asensio is the real deal

Yes, El Clasico was all about Lionel Messi, and rightly so, but Gareth Bale's replacement Marco Asensio showed that he belongs at the highest level.

It was he Zinedine Zidane trusted, not James Rodriguez or Isco, and he looked extremely bright. James may have been the man who scored the equaliser, but Asensio caused problems for the Barcelona defence from the minute he came on and it's important to remember that he's still just 21.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will never be replaced, they are on another level, but Asensio is part of a group who have the ability to reach the very top of the game once that duo hang up their boots. He glides across the pitch with ease and despite what some will tell you he absolutely can pick a pass. This boy is special.

After their defeat to Juventus everyone was all too happy to write off Barcelona as a spent force, a team on the way out. But as long as Lionel Messi hangs around that simply won't be the case.

Of course he can't play forever, but Messi is still just 29. He has at least six, seven, eight maybe even 10 years left at the very top, such is his technique and vision. He will reinvent himself as a playmaker as his legs fade, but there is little doubt he will be excellent at that as well. As long as Barcelona recruit sensibly, and get La Masia back on track, they aren't going anywhere.

Starting Bale cost Real

Zinedine Zidane’s call to hand Gareth Bale a starting spot was surprising, with the Welsh winger still clearly recovering from injury. And an ineffective Bale only lasted 38 minutes, with Real Madrid’s game plan scrapped as he limped off having aggravated his hamstring.

The former Spurs man could now be out for a number of weeks when his team needs him most and Zidane’s gamble massively backfired. With Isco and James Rodriguez among the substitutes there was no need to even risk Bale. This isn’t a club who are lacking for quality in depth, but Zidane’s decision just strengthened the suspicion that it is the Galactico culture which is preventing Real’s squad from achieving their full potential.

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