Franck Kessie’s late winner for Barcelona ensured that Real Madrid took home no points from Sunday’s El Clasico at Spotify Camp Nou.
The Merengues had the lead in the game for over 30 minutes but conceded two goals to give away their hard-earned advantage.
A combination of an inferior intensity and poor finishing led to Real Madrid’s third, and perhaps, the most significant defeat of the season in El Clasico. The La Liga race is now a steep ask as the gap at the top increases to 12 points.
Thibaut Courtois was the first Real Madrid player to speak to the press after the full-time whistle on Sunday. He began his interview with an optimistic view of the league title race ahead and urged his teammates to not lose hope.
"We’ll keep fighting until the end. They must lose four games and we have to win all of them. It’s not impossible but it’s very difficult. We must come here to win in the cup."
Speaking about Real Madrid’s performance on the night, the Belgian goalkeeper maintained that his side played a good game and that they did not deserve to lose.
"We put in a good performance and both teams had chances at the end. We went ahead and took good control of the game, but they scored in the last minute of the first half. We played well after the break."
The Merengues appeared set to bring home at least one point from the Clasico before they conceded a winner from Kessie in stoppage time. Courtois spoke about what went wrong and the events that led to Barcelona’s winner.
"We had chances and we didn’t make the most of them. It’s a shame that Asensio’s goal was disallowed. We went out to win the game but left space on the counter and they got the goal."
Finally, the goalkeeper concluded his interview about the team’s objectives in the final stretch of the season and their situation in various other competitions.
"I’m happy to help the team but the only thing that mattered today was the win. We can’t give up. We have a great team and there’s a lot of football to play. We’ve got two nice months coming up and we’ll fight until the end. We will come here to win in the cup and reach the final. Then there’s the Champions League too, which we’ll go all out for."
Federico Valverde did not enjoy one of his better Clasico nights and was part of the team’s lifeless right wing. He highlighted to the media that the difference between the two teams was the finishing and ability to put away chances.
"I’m sad. We needed to win and that’s what we wanted to do. They had the better of the first half and created more chances. Then they tired and we didn’t manage to put the game to bed with the chances we created in the second half. We didn’t convert them and that has cost us."
Carlo Ancelotti openly stated in his post-match press conference that he was unsure about Marco Asensio’s disallowed goal but Valverde had a different take on the subject.
"He was offside, I didn’t realise and I celebrated. I don’t like to discuss the referees. It can go for you or against you. I haven’t seen the replay so I can’t talk about it. I always look at our team, our pride, we have to focus on ourselves, on playing and trying to win games".
The Uruguayan then highlighted the flaws in his team’s performance on the night that enabled Barcelona to not only score an equaliser but also a late winner to take three points.
"In the first half, when we took the lead, we sat a bit deeper, to try and have a bit more of the ball. They grew into the game and played well. After the break, we had to try and go for the winner and that means you leave spaces. We were much better in the second half but we just couldn’t get the goal.”
Giving his two cents on the league title race, Valverde refused to give up and assured that the team would fight for as long as mathematically possible."
"We won’t be giving up on La Liga. So long as a mathematical possibility exists, you have to fight. The season will help us to build up positive morale and go into the Champions League with real that desire."