Barcelona crushed bitter rivals Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernebeu on Saturday evening, with Luis Suarez grabbing two goals in what was Rafael Benitez’s first ‘El Clasico’ as Real Madrid manager.
In what was a brilliant performance by Barcelona, Suarez opened the scoring before Neymar doubled their advantage. Andres Iniesta made it three soon after half-time and Suarez completed the rout with 15 minutes left. Real Madrid substitute Isco was also sent-off late on.
The visitors dominated throughout and took the lead after 11 minutes. After some typically neat and precise passing, Sergi Roberto broke with the ball through the midfield and slipped an elegant through ball behind the Real Madrid defence for Suarez, who converted from 12 yards with the outside of his boot.
It was 2-0 on 39 minutes after a delightful pass from Andres Iniesta was received by the Brazilian forward Neymar, who stepped inside before shooting past the unfortunate Keylor Navas, who was unable to make his save strong enough. This goal meant that Suarez and Neymar had scored all 19 of Barcelona’s league goals in the absence of Lionel Messi.
After the interval, the hosts continued to struggle to contain the free-flowing passing of their rivals and it was no surprise that Real Madrid fell further behind on 53 minutes. Again, after some intricate build-up play, Iniesta passed to Neymar on the edge of the box, who masterfully back-heeled the ball back into Iniesta’s path, with the little Spanish magician firing a brilliant shot into the top corner of the net.
Just when Real thought it couldn’t get any worse for them, Barcelona brought on Messi as a substitute. The Argentine had not played for six weeks following a knee ligament problem sustained on 26th September. He was deemed not fit enough to start the match but replaced Ivan Rakitic just before the hour mark, to the delight of the few travelling fans.
It did not take Messi long to get back into the action. Messi’s neat pass was played on by Jordi Alba into the stride of Suarez who hesitated to outwit Navas before lifting the ball over the ‘keeper to complete the scoring.
Cristiano Ronaldo was particularly quiet and had very little impact upon the game, like the rest of his Real Madrid team-mates. Ronaldo had one good chance to score a consolation goal but was thwarted by Claudio Bravo in the Barcelona goal, who saved with his head.
To epitomise Real Madrid’s frustrations, Isco, who had replaced James Rodriguez, kicked out nastily at Neymar on the touchline and was correctly sent-off with just over five minutes of the game remaining.
The result is far from a title decider but it does mean that Barcelona are now six points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, with 30 points from their opening 12 games. Real Madrid sit third, two points behind city rivals Atletico Madrid, who won the title in 2013/14. A humiliation for Benitez who must recover well from this embarrassing result.