The joy from the Catalans was clear to see at the end of the game as Barça manager and club legend Xavi Hernandez celebrated wildly with his players. The knives were out straight away in the Madridista press for Ancelotti. AS, the loyal Madridista mouth piece, was swinging for everybody, from the ref to the gaffer and most of the players in between.
There are few things in football as disagreeable as El Clasico. It is widely acknowledged as the biggest club game in world history, and for good reason. Historically the best players in the world have flocked to Spain's big 2 and it has a global reach. Popular in Asia and more specifically in Latin America as well as in Europe, there is something deeply distasteful about this derby.
Most big derbies are same city rivalries and are as bitterly contested as El Clasico. Rangers-Celtic is about religion, Boca-River is about class, Fenerbache-Galatasary is about geography. Liverpool-Man U is an inter-city rivalry like El Clasico but pales in comparison. El Clasico feels more like an international rivalry, Castille against Catalunya, opposing visions of what it means to be Iberian. Both club boards using the fixture to project their own brand of soft power. No chance of either of these clubs being owned by Johnny Foreigner!
Real have long been linked to the conservative Partido Popular and were Franco's favourite team. Barça have close links to the Catalan Independence movement and the money men behind them. Allegations of corruption against their respective City Halls are rife. The Spanish football authorities, eager to keep El Clasico as the number one club fixture, turn a blind eye and make sure that Real and Barça keep the lion's share of TV money and have all the benefits of a privileged place at the top table.
The fixture gets more viewers when the game means something for the title race, so every effort is made to make those two clubs the top two clubs every season. The other clubs are destined to be also-rans. It is great when the also-rans nick the title, as Atlético have done twice recently, but this doesn't happen often enough. Barca's recent fall to the verge of bankruptcy was a source of great shame to all their fans and the wider independentist movement. Their prize assets were sold off, Neymar and Messi to PSG, Suarez and Greizeman to Atlético. Players from the youth team were promoted to replace them and Xavi, that club legend from the Pep years, was brought in to steady the ship.
Barcelona's rise from the ashes under Xavi is truly amazing. After turning the team around, the club signed Aubamayang from Aresenal, Torres from Man City and Traoré from Wolves and the three have made a huge difference. Aubamayang scored 2 on Sunday and got an assist for Torres. Stuffing their hated rivals on their own patch got them up to third in the table.
Belief is back at the Nou Camp. So, next season we can expect to see a return to the status quo in La Liga, the traditional two horse race.