The El Clasico Miami clash of Spanish archrivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona attracted big interest between soccer fans in Miami. However, fans certainly would have enjoyed more in the presence of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who chose to skip the game. But the sellout crowd of 66,014 at Hard Rock Stadium didn’t seem to care once the entertaining, action-packed game got going. Celebrity fans that attended the game were: Draymond Green, Drake, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and 40 Miami Dolphins. Everyone got to see plenty of scoring, individual skills, including a magnificent goal from Barcelona star Lionel Messi in the opening minutes and a beautiful drop in the box from Neymar that led to Barca’s 3-2 victory.
There is nothing “friendly” when these two clubs play, although it was officially an exhibition. It was just the second time in history the rivals played each other away from Spanish soil, and both teams left most of their starters in well into the second half in order to get the best possible result. The crowd chanted “Me-ssi! Me-ssi!” when the argentinian star left the game and fans flew in from more than 50 countries and paid between $240 to $4,500 for tickets. A crowd of over 35000 showed up Friday night and paid $20 just to watch the two teams practice. Real Madrid coach and French legend, Zinedine Zidane said: “The support of the crowd was a perfect 10,”. While Barselona midfielder Busquets said: “We’re tired because this is just the preseason, but it was a very attractive game for the fans, there were a lot of goals scored, and we’re very happy with the victory. The level of our play has improved with each game, and we go home happy.”
The beautiful atmosphere in the Barsa camp is just the curtain over the real drama with the Barcelona’s Brazilian star forward Neymar, who is rumored to be leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in a $222 million transfer.
The short story of the match began when Messi dribbled the ball past Real Madrid’s Luca Modric, cut into the box and his shot deflected off Raphael Varane into the net to give Barcelona a 1-0 lead in the third minute. And just a few minutes later, Neymar crossed the ball to Suarez, who connected with Rakitic, who knocked it past Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic found a way back in the game just seven minutes later with a shot to the low far post, and the game was tied it up in the 36th minute on a goal by Marco Asensio, filling in for Ronaldo.
Barcelona got the lead and eventually the winning goal from Gerard Pique in the 50th minute on a perfectly-centered free kick from Neymar. The greatest performance goes to Barca goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who made a few astonishing saves that preserved the victory.
The two coaches stated: (Valverde) “The results are a reflection of how we play, generating plays, controlling the game. To win, we have to concentrate on our game.”; (Zidane added that it was difficult to fully recover from the 2 early goals) “We let in too many easy balls, and that’s not our game. The results were not exactly what we hoped. It does hurt. We don’t like to lose. But the important thing is that we continue to prepare and improve for the start of the season.” The next meeting of these giants is the Spanish Super Cup in Aug. 13.
It remains to see if Neymar will still be with Barsa.