VAR is not functioning properly in La Liga
The introduction of video assistant refereeing this season was supposed to clean up much of the controversy over refereeing errors or at least overrule the blatant ones. However, the failure to punish Ramos for either of his elbows on Vidal and Messi once again illustrated the issues with how VAR is being used. Ramos’ elbow on Messi was a fairly clear red card, especially compared to the one Lenglet was sent off for against Girona earlier in the season. The one on Vidal should also have at least been a penalty if not a sending off as well. Referees in La Liga seem to only consult with VAR when the ball goes out of play shortly after the incident, but that is leading to errors in which situations like the two Ramos elbows are not dealt with appropriately.
Something is slightly off with Lionel Messi
Given Barca’s dependence on Messi at times this season, them winning two Clasicos in a week with him out of sorts would have seemed impossible, but that’s precisely what happened. Messi’s performance Saturday was better than in the Copa Clasico, but he still doesn’t look fully fit and was holding his groin at times in the second half. His close control and passing were in fine condition, but he has seemed reluctant to break into a sprint over the past two matches and even going back to the match against Valencia four weeks ago. Barcelona will need him in top form for the return leg against Lyon, so perhaps resting him until then would help Messi rediscover the form he displayed earlier in the season.
Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid career continues to fade away
After Real Madrid’s attack failed to score in the Copa Clasico, Bale had a perfect opportunity in this match to force himself into the team with a performance on the biggest. However, he was barely involved in the match at all and then suffered the humiliation of being booed off by the entire stadium when Asensio replaced him early in the second half. With Ronaldo gone and the other attackers mostly underwhelming, this season seemed perfectly poised for Bale, but everything is now pointing to a summer transfer that both parties desperately need at this point.
Arthur changes the way Barcelona play
The Brazilian midfielder is still working his way back into form after a hamstring injury, but his presence brought some much needed composure to Barcelona’s possession and helped them dominate the ball more than in midweek. Arthur’s ability to keep the ball and make himself available for a pass were crucial in allowing Barca to control the ball further up the field on numerous occasions in the first half especially. Ivan Rakitic may have been the standout midfielder, but Arthur was the one who set the tempo for his team.