OOOOOWWEEEEE!!! Sergio Ramos to the rescue again.
The new el capitán, (can we call him that now?) earned his band in this one. You wonder how he could earn more in endorsements from one sponsor than many players in the league earn in total salary. Well, it's with goals like the one he scored in the latest Clásico today.
It looked like Barcelona was about to make the La Liga race tighten up a bit with a hard fought three points. Ramos however, who maximizes his talent based on sheer competitiveness the most of any player in Spain, kept the race as tight as when they arrived in Barcelona. With an expert cross from Modric - another clutch madidista - Ramos won the game with a header for the ages with time running out.
His 90th minute header was an epic cap to what would have been a hardly exciting Barça win. Should Barcelona have gone back in the locker room with three points however unemphatic. Luis Suarez's goal came via carelessness from Raphael Varane in the form of a reckless foul that yielded a free kick that Neymar chipped in to Luis Suarez who sent it in from close range.
Cristiano Ronaldo almost converted a Marcelo cross that would have tied it before Ramos' gem, but it was just blocked by a Barcelona defender just infront of the goal line. By earning the tie, Real Madrid stays unbeaten this season.
Farther down the table, Sevilla missed a golden opportunity to take sole possession of second-place. On the road visiting last-place Granada, they failed to take any points whatsoever, losing 2-1. With the win, Granada earned their first win of the season and Sevilla now is 7 points off the lead after coming in level with Barcelona.
Atlético Madrid also missed a crucial opportunity to chip away at their own nine-point deficit. Playing Espanyol at home, they at least did not fall back in the race, but played to a goalless draw against a side that Diego Simeone called "almost perfect."
Gerard Pique said after the match that Barcelona is still capable of recovering their form and becoming "unstoppable." He's definitely right, Spain has seen the tides suddenly change before, and Barcelona still has the talent to right the ship in a hurry.
The league title race could come down to the wire like last year, and boil down to a question of which manager best preserved his players enough to play effectively in the stretch run.
Image via: Flickr