The debut of Luis Suarez did not proved successful for FC Barcelona as they were convincingly beaten by Real Madrid 3-1 in a first Clasico of this season.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti started the game with 4-4-2 formation in absence of Gareth Bale as Isco and James Rodriguez were deployed alongside Modric and Kroos in the midfield while Ronaldo and Benzema formed an attacking partnership.
FC Barcelona decided to start the game with Luis Suiarez who came back from his four month ban and it seemed that this move is going to rich dividend as the Uruguayen slotted the ball to Neymar on the edge of the penalty area in the fourth minute and the Brazilian scored an incredible goal to put Blaungrana in front. But the decision of Luis Enrique to start the game with Xavi ahead of Ivan Rakitic looked doubtful as the ageing maestro lacked the pace and the same was exploited by the Real Madrid players on many occasions until his substitution.
However, it was clear from the high octane game of Real Madrid that FC Barcelona are going to struggle to sustain their lead as the Blaugrana looked uncomfortable against the pace of Ancelotti’s men. And Real Madrid came very close to reduce the lead in the 10th minute when an excellent header of Karim Benzema hit the crossbar. FC Barcelona did well to sustain the pressure and they even came close to double their lead in 23rd minute when Messi’s close-range shot was tipped wide by Casillas.
FC Barcelona allowed a goal for the first time this season as Ronaldo converted a penalty in the 34th minute after Piqué was given a yellow card for a handball for his attempt to block a Marcelo pass in the area. Cristiano Ronaldo easily converted the spot kick to level the score at 1-1.
FC Barcelona did well to maintain the tempo of the game in their favour for the remaining part of first half but Real Madrid came back strongly in the second half as defender Pepe scored through a header in the 50th minute.
The midfield of FC Barcelona lacked their usual pace and vigor to control the game and Real Madrid exploited their weakness in a ruthless manner as they made more runs forward after scoring the second goal. And they did not have to wait for long for third goal as a blunder by Andres Iniesta helped Isco to win the possession. Isco made an excellent run forward after winning the possession and then gave killer pass to Ronaldo. The CR7 did extremely well to give final pass to Karim Benzema and the Frenchman made no mistake to score the third goal for Real Madrid.
Such was the miserable performance of FC Barcelona midfielders that Messi and Neymar did not even get to see the ball for long periods. And this situation continued until the end as they failed to create any concrete chances.
Barce coach Luis Enrique also accepted in his post match interview that Real Madrid played much better than FC Barcelona during the whole game. “Losses are part of the learning curve. I hope that as a result of this defeat we cut down on errors. We have to talk about it as a team. At the end of the season we’ll see if we deserve anything,” Luis Enrique said.
“I don’t think it was a case of losing heart. We stopped creating chances and that cost us because of the opponent. The second goal came from a set piece and 3-1 from a clear mistake. They did us a lot of damage.”
Meanwhile, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was seemingly pleased with the performance of his team. He said in his post match press conference that: “The effort. We didn’t lose our heads after conceding the goal. We stayed true to our game plan and it all worked out well. I liked a lot of things about the team, the tempo was very high and we recovered well after the effort we put in on Wednesday.”
“I always believed that our problems at the back are not to do with quality, but with hard work and sacrifice. I have a serious and professional team who know what it means to play for Real Madrid and what they have to put in.”
After this win, Real Madrid now sit at the second position in La Liga table while FC Barcelona are still one point ahead of their Clasico rivals.
Image Courtesy: Real Madrid Official Website