Messi celebrates his second goal / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

“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,” says Pete Jenson for The Independent on Sunday night’s showdown between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.

Rob Hughes, writing for The New York Times, notes that what’s truly extraordinary “about these two individuals [Messi and Ronaldo] is that they transcend the team sport — and do so time and time again.  It isn’t simply a case of counting their goals. If that were the attraction, then we must include Radamel Falcao, the Colombian now matching them goal for goal in the Spanish league.”

Writing for ESPN, Gabriele Marcotti says that Messi and Ronaldo “showed leadership and work rate and, between them, scored all four goals. They belong in the same conversation as Pele, Diego Armando Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano and others you may care to name. And one day we'll be able to tell our grand-children we witnessed this stellar rivalry first-hand.”

Everyone won las night

“There wasn’t a way to break the 2-2 deadlock, a scoreline that ratifies the difference of eight points,” muses El País’ Ramon Besa. Despite the fact that Barça and Madrid’s interests weren't served Sunday night, Mr. Besa points out that “no one was displeased with [the result], [how could they be] after one of the best games in recent memory featuring to the talent of both teams and the world class of Messi and Ronaldo.”

A point Phil Ball, ESPN columnist, agrees with: “Thirteen clasicos in the last two years: unlucky for some, but not for many. There are those who claim to be tiring of the circus but, with games of the quality of Sunday night's, it seems churlish to complain.” Mr. Ball adds: “For some reason that is not altogether clear, this generation of Real Madrid and Barcelona players seem hell-bent on entertaining us, whatever the particular circumstances surrounding the game.”

“Football won,” says the Argentinean sports daily Olé. “Yes, it ended in a draw, but the spectator won, regardless if you’re neutral, or a fan of either team.”

Sunday night's unsung hero

While the headlines across the globe praise the two biggest stars in the world of football, Lobo Carrasco highlights the performance of Barça’s defensive midfielder: “Sergio Busquets’ work was immeasurable in winning back possession and ball distribution for the benefit of Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Messi, the players that had to run the attack. Every inch of the pitch was in contention but the skill, temperance and ability to prolong the team’s possessions led Tito’s men to a completely different game.”

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