FC Barcelona suffered a 3-1 El Clasico loss to Real Madrid on Saturday, but Sergino Dest was one of the bright spots, playing well in a historic appearance that saw him become the first American to ever play in the fabled Spanish rivalry.
“It was a really tough match,” Dest said after the match. “We had chances. They had chances. It’s just too bad that we lost. It was my first El Clasico. I’m just pissed that we lost.”
Dest played the full match, starting at right back and playing well in a difficult matchup against Real Madrid’s Brazilian star, Vinicius Jr., who Dest did well to contain.
The 19-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team fullback finished completing 40 of 42 passes, and finished with a game-high five successful dribbles. He contributed two tackles and made some key defensive interventions in the first half, including thwarting a dangerous attacking foray by Casemiro in the penalty area.
Saturday’s edition of El Clasico started out as a wide-open affair, with plenty of attacking soccer on display, and Dest emerged as arguably Barcelona’s most impressive defender.
The match was tied at halftime, but a VAR decision granted Real Madrid a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted to give the visitors the lead at the Camp Nou. Barcelona failed to generate an equalizer before Luka Modric sealed the win with a late insurance goal to make the final 3-1.
“They were maybe a little bit sharper in the chances. They finished and we didn’t,” Dest said. “We have another game on Wednesday against Juventus and we have to win that one, 100 percent.”
Saturday’s performance is another strong one for Dest, who was deployed at right back after having played his previous matches for Barcelona at left back in place of injured Jordi Alba. With Alba back in the lineup Saturday, Koeman gave Dest the start at right back ahead of veteran Sergi Roberto.
Barcelona has lost two straight La Liga matches, but must now regroup for a crucial Champions League showdown with Juventus on Wednesday. Given his impressive performance on Saturday, Dest stands a good chance of featuring against the Italian champions.
“We just have to keep going. We have to win the next couple of games,” Dest said. “The next game is Juventus in the Champions League. We have to win that and get the team spirit back.”
For Dest, Wednesday will offer another chance to solidify his place in Ronald Koeman’s starting lineup. It is a place he should keep after showing well in a memorable debut in El Clasico, which Dest isn’t going to forget, even though Barcelona lost.
“It’s my first Clasico. It’s a nice game to play, of course,” Dest said. “As I said, it’s just too bad that we lost the game against Real Madrid.”