A fantastic performance from Barcelona saw the blaugrana take down Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in this season’s first iteration of El Clasico.
There was plenty of speculation before kickoff over the extent of Lionel Messi’s involvement in the match until it was finally revealed that Messi would be among the substitutes from the start of the game.
In Messi’s absence, Neymar and Luis Suarez stepped up just as they have been in all of Barcelona’s previous matches where Messi had been out with injury.
At the 11th minute, Luis Suarez broke the deadlock and rifled a shot past Keylor Navas into the bottom left corner of the net after some great work and a perfect pass into the box from Sergi Roberto.
Barcelona were dominant throughout the match and by the 39th minute, Real Madrid’s net was bulging once again after a delightful chipped pass from Iniesta reached Neymar who finished the attack with a low shot that went underneath Real Madrid’s Costa Rican goalkeeper.
A third goal was nearly added just at the stroke of half-time when Neymar sprinted past Danilo making his way into the Madrid penalty area and making a low pass to an onrushing Suarez whose shot was cleared off the goal-line by Marcelo.
The start of the second half saw more of the same dominance from Barcelona with Real Madrid forced to taking shots from outside of the box, all of which were well wide of their target.
Real Madrid’s poor pressing as a team meant that the Barcelona midfield was able to control the entire match and that fact was highlighted at the 53rd minute when Neymar’s back-heel flick set up Iniesta just outside the penalty box allowing Iniesta to give Barcelona their third goal of the night with a thunderous strike into the top right corner of the net.
Rafa Benitez then decided to improve the midfield by taking off James Rodriguez and bringing on Isco who allowed Real Madrid to put Cristiano Ronaldo through on goal but Claudio Bravo did very well to block Ronaldo’s shot.
Real Madrid threatened again when Benzema put his head to a cross from Danilo but once again Barcelona’s Chilean goalkeeper was able to get his hand to block the powerful shot.
At 3-0 up and with 30 minutes left to play, Luis Enrique decided to bring Messi into the match after spending several weeks on the sidelines recovering from injury. The Argentinian was able to help consolidate control over the match and was part of the buildup play that put Luis Suarez through on goal at the 74th minute. The Uruguayan took his time leaving Keylor Navas guessing where the shot would go before the Uruguayan striker chipped the ball past him earning his second goal of the game and Barcelona’s 4th goal of the match.
The frustration of losing 4-0 to their most hated rivals in their own home stadium became very clear in the Real Madrid players and this was exemplified when Isco kicked out at Neymar’s knee forcing the referee to give him a straight red card at the 84th minute.
The scoreline could have easily become 5-0 when young substitute Mounir Al Haddadi received a low cross into the 18 yard box from Neymar but was unable to finish the chance with only the goalkeeper to beat.
This victory will not be soon forgotten by Barcelona fans and Real Madrid will have to pick themselves up and not allow this heavy defeat to hurt them psychologically before their next game.
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