Barcelona hammered arch rivals Real Madrid 5-1 in the first El Clasico of the 2018-19 campaign, courtesy of a Luis Suarez hat-trick.
Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona reclaimed top spot in the standings, as they hammered bitter rivals Real Madrid 5-1 at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Coming into the game without captain Lionel Messi, the Blaugrana were off the blocks very early as Philippe Coutinho handed them the lead, applying the finishing touches to a fine team move in the 11th minute. Close to the half-hour mark, Raphael Varane felled Luis Suarez in the box, handing Barca a penalty, which the Uruguayan dispatched with ease to make it 2-0.
Real Madrid threatened a comeback after the break with Marcelo pulling one back for the team, while Luka Modric and Karim Benzema both came close. However, Suarez reinstated Barcelona’s two-goal advantage with a brilliant header in the 75th minute, before completing his hat-trick eight minutes later. Arturo Vidal added the fifth in the dying minutes to heap further misery on Madrid.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 28, 2018
It was an extremely clinical display from Ernesto Valverde’s men, that too in the absence of their star man Messi. And the win sees Barcelona jump back to the top of the pile in the La Liga standings, a point ahead of second-placed Alaves. Here’s how the Barca players fared on the day against Julen Lopetegui’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
The German international had very little to do in the first period, with Real Madrid resorting to efforts from long-range, which he dealt with great comfort. Not a lot he could have done to stop Marcelo’s goal, having been let down by his defence.
Sergi Roberto: 8/10
Starting at right-back, the Spaniard was alert to the threat posed by Gareth Bale and the on-rushing Marcelo and as a result did not endeavour much into the attacking third. Pushed into the midfield after Nelson Semedo came on and Roberto shone, getting behind the visitors’ defence and creating chances with regularity. Got the assists for Suarez’s second and third strikes.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
The former Spain international was troubled at times by the Madrid attackers, especially at the beginning of the second half, but was a solid and reliable presence at the back. Pique organised his defence well, carried the ball out from the back with confidence and was a threat each time he got into the opposition box. Could have done a little better in the lead up to Marcelo’s goal though.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
Making his El Clasico debut, the Frenchman showed no signs of nerves at all. Was calm and composed alongside Pique, dealing with whatever the Merengues threw at him. The summer signing is starting to grow into his role in the absence of compatriot Samuel Umtiti.
Jordi Alba: 8/10
The full-back was easily one of the best players on the park on Sunday. Got forward with great intent and set Coutinho up for the opening goal with a lovely cutback. Was involved in the move leading to the penalty that Suarez won.
Was exposed a bit by Lucas Vazquez after the break, but continued to bomb forward with utmost regularity and was a menace all game long for the Madrid defence.
Ivan Rakitic: 7.5/10
Played a fantastic pass over the top of the visitors’ defence to set Alba off leading up to the opening goal and was generally very sharp and precise with his distribution, helping Barcelona control the game. Did get a bit flustered when Madrid started strongly after the break, but regained his composure and saw off the game without much discomfort.
Sergio Busquets: 7.5/10
Controlled the game with utmost ease in a first half that Barcelona dominated. Always knew where he needed to be, broke up play well and used the ball intelligently. Much like Rakitic, he too started off a bit nervy after the break, with a mishit clearance allowing Modric a chance to score. But, Busquets found his rhythm soon after and helped Barcelona see off the game.
Arthur Melo: 7/10
Another El Clasico debutant for the Catalans, the Brazilian international exuded great calm and composure in the middle of the park. Shielded the ball well, kept things ticking over with neat and quick passes and had a curling effort saved by Thibaut Courtois. Struggled to cope with the visitors after the break though, and saw his influence wane.
Once again getting the nod in the absence of Messi, the Brazilian failed to make an impact like he had done against Inter Milan in the midweek encounter. No lack of effort, but seemed to lack the quality on the ball. Wasted a great chance to set Alba up for a goal in the first half. Subbed off as Madrid threatened a comeback.
Luis Suarez: 10/10
A perfect ten on ten for the Uruguayan. Looked like he meant business from the word go. Won the penalty with the help of VAR and converted it clinically. Killed the game off with the third goal for Barcelona – a spectacular header, just when Madrid looked like clawing their way back into the game, before completing his hat-trick with a clever dink.
Tormented Varane and Sergio Ramos all game and worked very hard off the ball. Has really stepped up in Messi’s absence for the Catalans, after a rather scratchy start to the season.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
Made a smart run to get on the end of Alba’s cutback for the opening goal and combined well with Suarez in the final third for most of the first half. Subdued after the break though and was rightly taken off to be replaced by Ousmane Dembele. A decent display from the Brazilian playmaker, but more is expected of him.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
Replaced Rafinha with twenty minutes left to be played, allowing Roberto to push forward. Not really tested as Madrid had the winds knocked out of their sails due to Suarez’s second goal soon after he came on.
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
Came on for Coutinho in the 74th minute. Involved in the build-up to Suarez’s second goal soon after he came on and then went on to assist Vidal for the fifth.
Arturo Vidal: 7/10
Thrown in for Arthur with less than ten minutes left on the clock. Scored his first goal for Barcelona with a well-placed header and helped them see out the game without any hiccups.