The first Clasico of the season was an extremely crunch affair as the Catalans demolished the Castillan challenge on their own den. 80,500 fans packed the Santiago Bernabeu with the majority being the ones backing the whites but the home support did no good to stop misery being added onto an already woeful season for the Galacticos.
Bale and James Rodriguez started for the Capital side while the hyped return of Lionel Messi came later in the second half. By the time Leo entered the pitch the game was effectively over.
In terms of the overall game, Barca were playing their traditional tiki-taka flavor of soccer right from the outset and at times looked vulnerable at the back with their risky passing. But Madrid were forced to chase the ball for most of the time and Barcelona were patiently looking for a way through the Madrid defense. And the way was found by Sergi Roberto in the 11’ minute as he ran onto a panicky Madrid defense to which Ramos hasted to close him down leaving Suarez free enough to get a ball squeezed at the right time by Sergi Roberto. Suarez made no mistake in slotting the ball coolly at the back of the net. It was a vintage Barcelona goal and a one goal lead.
Neymar freekick was on target but his goal was denied by a fine save from Navas. Madrid without the ball were never very threatening except for a few occasions like James taking a shot from outside the box only to find his effort saved by a spirited Claudio Bravo.
Mascherano suffered an injury in the first half and made way for Mathieu. This was a good tactical decision by Luis Enrique considering the fact that Madrid ha started playing direct passes into the box after going down.
Neymar who had missed a good chance early in the half by blasting a shot high made up for his clumsiness by doubling Barcelona’s lead by scoring on a one on one deep inside the Madrid box as Iniesta found him with an inch perfect through ball.
The first half ended with Barcelona with a two goal lead and Madrid complaining about an offside decision against Cristiano Ronaldo.
The second half of the game was to romp the Madrid faithful as Iniesta struck a thunderbolt of a strike from the edge of the box as he found himself at the right place and at the very right time a perfect layoff by Neymar. The way the ball zoomed into the top corner it seemed nothing less than a dagger into the hearts of the loyalest of Madrid supporters.
Messi came on in the 57’ to replace Rakitic. Isco came on for Rodriguez minutes before Messi’s arrival. Carvajal came on for a lackluster Marcelo in the 59’ minute.
Later in the second half Bravo completed Ronaldo’s bad day by denying him a goal from point blank range. Bale had crafted a wonderful pass onto Ronaldo’s feet from the right flank and the Portuguese’s shot was cleverly stopped by an in-form Bravo.
Suarez scored his second in the 74’ minute as Messi’s pass was touched off by Alba setting up another one-on-one for the Uruguayan to chip past Navas to give Barcelona a commanding four goal lead.
The final substitution of the game was Munir in the 77’ minute as he replaced the captain fantastic Iniesta. Iniesta handed over his armband to Leo as he walked off the pitch. To make matters worse for Madrid Isco was sent off in the 84’ minute charged for kicking Alba.
To sum it all Madrid were nowhere near to playing like a title contender and questions will be asked about their poor defending as they slipped up three goals on one-on-one opportunities. The men in white were just chasing the ball with the away side holding and dominating the entire game. Without Messi the team never seemed handicapped against a side boasting his arch rival Ronaldo. It was a true Champion’s performance by Barcelona at the Bernabeu and they were just one goal short of creating a great feat of beating their rivals by a margin of 5 goals in their own home stadium. The last time Barcelona won by more than 4 goals was under Guardiola’s era but the win came at the Camp Nou in a team inspired by Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and David Villa. This time around the names have changed and they have achieved an even greater feat to say the least considering they won at the Bernabeu.
Navas; Marcelo(Carvajal 59’), Ramos, Varane, Danilo; Kroos, Modric; Ronaldo, Bale, Rodriguez(Isco 55’); Benzema
Bravo; Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Pique, Mascherano (Mathieu 27’); Busquets, Rakitic(Munir 77’), Iniesta(Messi 57’); Suarez, Neymar, Sergi Roberto
REFEREE: David Fernandez Borbalan
VENUE: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid