Luis Suarez’s Barcelona debut ended in disappointment as the Catalan giants were swept aside by an impressive Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Karim Benzema ensured a 3-1 win for the Galacticos after Neymar had opened the scoring early on in the game.
Suarez picked out his fellow forward after just three minutes and Neymar came inside before finding the bottom corner. With Barcelona yet to concede a league goal ahead of this game, there were some concerns in the stands that Madrid would struggle to break down their fierce rivals.
But soon Real were playing very good football and creating several chances, with Benzema heading against the woodwork. However, Barcelona should have increased their lead when Suarez played a teasing ball into Lionel Messi, but the Argentine couldn’t convert as his shot was too close to Madrid skipper Iker Casillas.
Real Madrid did eventually equalize after Barcelona defender Gerard Pique handled Marcelo’s low cross in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Ronaldo stepped up and showed no signs of nerves as he sent Claudio Bravo the wrong way for his 21st goal of the season. It was the first time Bravo had been beaten in his Barcelona career.
The home side started the second half brightly as they looked to capitalize on the momentum that they had taken into the half time break and went ahead in the 50th minute. Pepe powered home a header from a corner as Barcelona’s vulnerable looking defense was finally exploited by world class opposition.
Barca then struggled to get into the game as Los Blancos took complete control, passing the ball at will and putting pressure on their visitors when they were not in possession.
That pressure told in the 61st minute as Andres Iniesta was dispossessed by Isco and Madrid countered. Isco found Ronaldo, but the pass was too short for the Portuguese to take it in his stride. However, he managed to turn and pick out James Rodriguez before the Colombian fed Benzema. The French striker showed great composure to beat Bravo and open up a two-goal cushion.
This was a wake up call for Barcelona as they were dominated by the European Champions. Madrid managed to control every aspect of the game and even Messi didn’t have much of an impact in the match.
Carlo Ancelotti’s experience helped him to get the better of his counterpart Luis Enrique, who was taking charge of his first Clasico as manager. Enrique participated in the fixture for both sides during his playing career but was well beaten by an experienced coach and world class team this time.
Importantly, the win for Real narrows the gap between the two to just one point. A Barca win would have extended the gap to seven points, and it would have been a major blow to Madrid’s title hopes even at this stage of the season.
As it is, the race for the league title has been blown wide open by a fantastic performance from Madrid, and this was without one of their star men – Gareth Bale. Meanwhile, Barca had every one of their world renowned superstars on the pitch as Suarez returned from his ban but were well beaten. You get the feeling that Madrid’s best is yet to come, making the win even more ominous.
Ancelotti has made his side even more potent in attack after a wonderful first season in charge that saw him lift the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League as manager. The last decade of Spanish football has been dominated – generally – by Barcelona, but there could definitely be a shift in power now.
They have a wonderful squad, a great manager and the potential to dominate Europe again this season. But as good as Barcelona’s squad is, they now know – if they didn’t already – that this season will not be a walk in the park.
Ancelotti’s men surge on, whilst Enrique must help his players to regroup and try to maintain their slight advantage at the top of the table.