BARCELONA, Spain — The meetings between Barcelona and Real Madrid had become less and less about football lately, dominated instead by sideshows centered on ugly accusations, red cards and infamous eye pokes.
That was until
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined Sunday to return one of
football’s greatest rivalries to its rightful place, matching each other
with a pair of two-goal performances that fully lived up to their
stature as the best players in the world.
The 2-2 draw didn’t lack
potential distractions, with Madrid defender Pepe calling Andres
Iniesta a flopper, and tens of thousands of Catalan separatists calling
for independence from the rest of Spain.
But Messi and Ronaldo’s
dazzling duel overshadowed all premature title forecasts and
controversies, with the chase for the Ballon D’Or award providing the