Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: a class apart in el Clasico

Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2: The superstars of the Spanish game live up to their billing, scoring two goals each as Barcelona are held by Madrid at the Nou Camp

The Nou Camp

Let's face it, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been in a state of independence for a long time now: independent from their peers; existing outside the laws of football and occasionally of physics too.

The Clasico build-up had been driven by the political distance between Catalonia and Spain. Then the Argentine and the Portuguese took over and everyone went back to wondering if any sort of distance can really be put between them.

Ronaldo scored with his first shot. He added a second in the half second to equalize for Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho was asked after the game if he felt his performance had been enough to earn him the Balon D'Or at the end of the year.

"I don't know if he's done enough," he said exasperated. "All I know is that saying who is the best in the world at the moment should be banned, because these two are just so good. They are both from a different planet."

Messi also scored with his first shot and then beat Iker Casillas with a free-kick in the second half to move to within just one goal of Alfredo Di Stefano's record 18 goals scored in this fixture.

Di Stefano was 35 when he stopped playing – who knows how far ahead of him Messi will be if we are graced with his presence for another 10 years.

Such was the emotional outpouring when his set-piece put Barcelona ahead the home supporters almost forget their second half protest for independence. It came, finally, at a little later than the 17 minutes 14 seconds that mark the last time they had law-making autonomy free from Spain. When it arrived it was louder but that had far more to do with the boy from Rosario than an increase in political fervor.

The lines across the football landscape are being redrawn by two men who seem to known no frontiers. You might prefer the bravado of Ronaldo; you might prefer the unassuming Messi, but football wins every time either man takes to the pitch.

Messi has now scored 154 goals at the Nou Camp in 164 games; Ronaldo has needed just 16 games to score 10 goals against Barcelona. Ronaldo has 14 goals this season and Messi 12. The record books stay open because they are being rewritten every week.

Ronaldo's first goal came not from a smash and grab made in Madrid but at the end of a finely worked move more befitting Barcelona's style. Karim Benzema played the pass to Ronaldo after Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil, Marcelo and Sami Khedira had all exchanged passes. Ronaldo was allowed too much space by Alves and he beat Victor Valdes at his near post with a drilled low finish.

He had become the first player ever to score in six consecutive Clasicos. He had also become only the second player to score away from home in a Clasico in five straight away matches, but the only other player to have achieved that feat soon made it 1-1.

Messi lurked on the edge of the six yard box and when Iniesta played the ball out to Pedro and his cross cannoned off Alonso it was not cleared by Pepe and the Argentine pounced.

Alves had been found wanting for Ronaldo's goal and he was replaced by Montoya midway through the first half. Alves has since been ruled out for three weeks with a thigh injury.

Pedro was late on Sergio Ramos and despite protests was cautioned. Alonso joined him in the book for a foul on Xavi and Ozil then clattered into Messi but familiarity between these too has bred grudging respect as witnessed by the embraces in the tunnel before the game and the poison of some of last year's pitch battles never looked like returning although Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said after the game that a "video should be made of Pepe's tackles".

Barcelona started the stronger in the second half with Pepe poking the ball away from Andres Iniesta. The midfielder tumbled over inside the area but the appeals for a penalty were correctly waved away by the referee.

The outstanding Sergio Busquets was shown a yellow card for clipping the heels of Ronaldo and the Portuguese hit his free-kick into the wall. On 15 minutes of the second period Messi went one better from a similar distance and Barcelona were 2-1 up.

Such was the commotion from the second goal that the supporters almost forget their second-half protest. Arriving slightly later than the 17th minute of the second half the chant of "independencia" was heard once more.

Ronaldo tried and failed with a bicycle kick at the other end as Real Madrid pushed for the equaliser. It looked as if the only man capable of outdoing him was going to do just that, but running on to an Ozil pass he drew Valdes and slotted in the visitors' second.

There was now panic at the back for Barcelona with Ronaldo looking for his hat-trick. But with Messi needing just one for his treble – a goal that would draw him level with Di Stefano's record haul of 18 in this fixture – the danger came at both ends.

Gonzalo Higuain, who had replaced Benzema, had a shot saved by Valdes at the keeper's near post and as quickly as Barcelona raced away Real Madrid came right back at them. It was too much for the referee who turned too quickly in the centre circle at one point and went to ground.

Montoya hit the bar and Pedro's shot cannoned off Alexis as Barcelona pushed harder at the death but the game's fifth goal never came. Mourinho kept up an incredible record of not having lost in October in eight years. What he really needed though was a win and the gap at the top remains eight points.

The gap between the best two players in the world remains negligible. "They are both incredible," said Vilanova. "Perhaps Ronaldo would have received slightly more recognition if he were not playing at the same time as Messi."

Match facts

Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Adriano, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Fabregas

Real Madrid: Cassilas, Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Arbeloa, C Ronaldo, Alonso, Khedira, Di Maria, Ozil, Benzema

Scorers. Barcelona: Messi 31, 61. Real Madrid: Ronaldo 23, 66

Subs: Barcelona Montoya (Alves, 28), Sanchez (Fabregas, 64). Real Madrid Higuain (Benzema, 62), Kaka (Ozil, 80), Essien (di Maria, 88). Booked: Barca Pedro, Busquets. Real Alonso, Ozil, Pepe, Arbeloa. Possession: Barca 69%. Real 31%. Attempts on target: Barca 3. Real 4. Referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro. Attendance 95,000.

Get Adobe Flash player
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering