The speed and tactics of Real Madrid were too much for Barcelona in the first Clasico of the season, as an early Neymar goal wasn’t enough for the visitors, eventually losing 3-1 with a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty followed by goals from Karim Benzema and Pepe in a dominant performance from the European champions.
Barcelona are still on top of the league, one point ahead of Real Madrid, but their early advantage, in the match and in the La Liga, has now been pretty much erased. Starting with Luis Suarez in the lineup was an interesting decision, but it also meant a formation that the team isn’t used to playing in. One great pass from him to Neymar resulted in the fourth minute goal, but after missing out on a few good opportunities while Real Madrid were still finding it difficult to handle the three-headed attack, the home side took over the match.
The first goal came from the penalty spot, as Cristiano Ronaldo reached 16 goals in eight league matches this season. Gerard Pique with an awful performance handled the ball with his hand while trying to block a pass from Marcelo, resulting in the spot kick. Claudio Bravo has been perfect this season, not conceding a single goal, but Ronaldo’s finish was just the first of more to come.
The Barcelona midfield struggled against the pressure from Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco and Marcelo who kept leaving his position in order to help out. It worked very well for Real Madrid, constantly troubling a slow Barcelona defense and midfield with counter attacks. A corner kick taken by Kroos in the 50th minute landed on Pepe’s head to make it 2-1, after the Portuguese defender played badly through the first half of the match.
A terrible mistake by Andres Iniesta in the 61st minute, right after Xavi left for Ivan Rakitic, resulted in the third goal for Real Madrid, scored by Karim Benzema. Barcelona looked a bit better in the final 30 minutes, but Real Madrid were the more dangerous team, and if it wasn’t for inaccurate touches from Ronaldo and Marcelo near the penalty box, this could have been a rather embarrassing result for the league leaders.
It’s not as if Iker Casillas wasn’t tested, but he was the less busy of the two goalkeepers. Neymar stopped playing after his goal and Lionel Messi played too far away from the danger area most of the time. Barcelona will probably look better once Suarez settles in but for now, despite not leading the league, Real Madrid are the best team in Spain and probably Europe.