Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid: Ronald Koeman blames VAR for Clasico loss

Clement Lenglet’s shirt-pull on Sergio Ramos was the turning point of the game

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman says the video assistant referee system seems to be “only used to make decisions against Barca” after Sergio Ramos’ penalty helped Real Madrid win El Clasico.

Federico Valverde smashed Real, who had lost their previous two games, into the lead from Karim Benzema’s pass.

Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, 17, levelled from Jordi Alba’s cross, becoming the youngest scorer in El Clasico history.

Ramos scored from the spot and Luka Modric smashed in a late third.

The turning point was a lengthy VAR decision for the Ramos penalty. Referee Juan Martínez Munuera did not spot Clement Lenglet’s pull on Ramos’ shirt but eventually gave a penalty after viewing it on the screen.

Barca had two penalty appeals turned down – for a Raphael Varane challenge on Lionel Messi and a possible Varane handball.

“I don’t understand VAR, I think it is only used to make decisions against Barca,” said Koeman, whose side have only picked up seven points from five games.

“You always get shirt tugs like that in the area and I think Ramos makes a foul on Lenglet first. There’s a tug of the shirt, but not enough to make him fall behind as he did. For me it’s not a penalty.

“We have had five matches and [VAR] has only been used to go against Barca. It’s never gone our way.

“The decision had a big influence on the final result, because we were playing well up to the penalty.”

Ramos said: “I think it was a very clear penalty. He tugged my shirt when I was jumping for the ball and it’s as clear as daylight. It’s unfair to criticise a referee for a decision as clear as that.”

The result takes Real top of the fledgling La Liga table with 13 points from six games, six points above Barcelona.

Efficient Real brush off recent defeats

Luka Modric
Luka Modric came off the bench to score Real’s third goal

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has not lost any of his six matches as a manager at the Nou Camp, with three wins and three draws.

Morale may have been low after defeats in their previous two games by Cadiz, in La Liga, and Shakhtar Donetsk, in the Champions League.

But they started brightly when Benzema fed Valverde, who slammed the ball into the far corner, leaving Neto with no chance.

Fati’s almost immediate equaliser made it the first time both sides scored in the opening eight minutes of a Clasico in La Liga since 1940.

After that, Barca threatened to take control but Real did well to turn the tide.

Ramos’ low penalty beat Neto and marks the first time he has scored 10 La Liga goals in a calendar year.

There was time for a late third as Luka Modric stepped past Neto before a classy finish.

Real are unbeaten in three Clasicos for the first time since 2012-13.

Questions for Koeman?

It is perhaps too early to talk about real pressure but Barcelona’s tally of seven points from five games is as bad a start as boss Koeman could have feared.

They were OK for large parts of El Clasico and dominated for a period but Real deserved their win in the end.

Scorer Fati was one of three teenagers in Barca’s team, alongside Pedri and right-back Sergino Dest, who was the first American to play in El Clasico.

Fati – who became the first player under the age of 18 to score in El Clasico – and Dest, who joined from Ajax at the start of this month, were two of Barca’s better performers.

Koeman will surely be quizzed on how Philippe Coutinho, who did not have a good game, played the full 90 minutes – or why he did not make any changes until the 81st minute.

Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, two of the most expensive players of all time, came on too late for any real impact.

Lionel Messi was far from his best and has not scored in six Clasicos.

Player of the match

ModricLuka Modric


  1. Squad number22Player nameAnsu Fati

  2. Squad number14Player namePhilippe Coutinho

  3. Squad number13Player nameNeto

  4. Squad number10Player nameMessi

  5. Squad number2Player nameDest

  6. Squad number21Player namede Jong

  7. Squad number18Player nameAlba

  8. Squad number3Player namePiqué

  9. Squad number16Player namePedri

  10. Squad number17Player nameTrincão

  11. Squad number15Player nameLenglet

  12. Squad number11Player nameDembélé

  13. Squad number5Player nameBusquets

  14. Squad number7Player nameGriezmann

  15. Squad number9Player nameBraithwaite

Real Madrid

  1. Squad number10Player nameModric

  2. Squad number4Player nameRamos

  3. Squad number15Player nameValverde

  4. Squad number9Player nameBenzema

  5. Squad number20Player nameVinícius Júnior

  6. Squad number17Player nameLucas Vázquez

  7. Squad number1Player nameCourtois

  8. Squad number8Player nameKroos

  9. Squad number23Player nameMendy

  10. Squad number14Player nameCasemiro

  11. Squad number5Player nameVarane

  12. Squad number11Player nameAsensio

  13. Squad number25Player nameRodrygo

  14. Squad number6Player nameNacho



  • 13Murara Neto
  • 2Dest
  • 3Piqué
  • 15LengletBooked at 29mins
  • 18AlbaBooked at 62minsSubstituted forBraithwaiteat 87′minutes
  • 16GonzálezSubstituted forMachado Trincãoat 81′minutes
  • 5BusquetsSubstituted forDembéléat 82′minutes
  • 21de Jong
  • 14Coutinho
  • 22FatiSubstituted forGriezmannat 81′minutes
  • 10MessiBooked at 90mins


  • 4Araújo
  • 6Aleñá
  • 7Griezmann
  • 8Pjanic
  • 9Braithwaite
  • 11Dembélé
  • 12Puig
  • 17Machado Trincão
  • 20Roberto
  • 24Firpo
  • 26Peña
  • 36Tenas

Real Madrid

  • 1Courtois
  • 6NachoBooked at 37minsSubstituted forVázquezat 43′minutes
  • 5Varane
  • 4Ramos
  • 23Mendy
  • 15ValverdeSubstituted forModricat 69′minutes
  • 14CasemiroBooked at 19mins
  • 8Kroos
  • 11AsensioSubstituted forRodrygoat 81′minutes
  • 9Benzema
  • 20Vinícius Júnior


  • 3Militão
  • 10Modric
  • 12Marcelo
  • 13Lunin
  • 17Vázquez
  • 18Jovic
  • 22Isco
  • 25Rodrygo
  • 33López

Juan Martínez Munuera

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