A first-half strike from Ivan Rakitic was enough to fire Barcelona to their second El Clasico win in a matter of three days at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Barcelona strengthened their hold at the top of the La Liga standings, as they edged past arch-rivals Real Madrid 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night.
Coming on the back of a 0-3 win against Los Blancos in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey earlier in the week, the Catalans started were ahead in the 26th minute, as Ivan Rakitic found the back of the net with a clipped finish over the keeper, after some neat inter-play between him and Sergi Roberto.
Real Madrid struggled to find a way back into the game, as Barcelona controlled the proceedings and kept the hosts restricted to half-chances, with the central defensive duo of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet in fine form, to pick up their third El Clasico victory of the season and second in the space of three days.
🙌 TAKE A BERNA-BOW!
We colored #ElClásico (again) 😉
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 2, 2019
Barcelona now have a ten-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, while they are 12 points ahead of Real Madrid, who sit third in the standings. Here’s how Ernesto Valverde’s men fared on the night at the Santiago Bernabeu;
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
The German international had much less to do in comparison to the cup tie on Wednesday night and he was up to the task. Had a couple of straightforward stops to make on either side of half-time, which he did with little fuss.
Sergi Roberto: 7/10
Moved to the right-back slot after having started the last game in the middle of the park, the Spaniard proved much more effective than Nelson Semedo in curtailing the threat posed by Vinicius Junior. Gave the Brazilian little respite on the night and also got the assist for the only goal of the game.
Gerard Pique: 9/10
A majestic display from the seasoned campaigner in a crunch tie. Produced a key block in the first half to keep Luka Modric’s effort out and stood like a wall between the Barcelona goal and the Real Madrid attack. Made the most number of interceptions (3) and clearances (14) in the game in what was a rock-solid performance.
Clement Lenglet: 8/10
If Pique was a wall, his defensive partner Lenglet was no less. Produced a number of vital interventions to deny Madrid a way back into the game – the block on Vinicius’ effort being the highlight. Hardly put a foot wrong in what was easily one of his finest displays in Barcelona colours.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
The Spaniard put in another energetic display as is the norm, always offering an outlet on the left-side with his forward forays, while not leaving any gaps at the back. Made sure that Gareth Bale had a game to forget for Real Madrid.
Ivan Rakitic: 8/10
The Croatian international gave his everything out on the pitch on Saturday night, as he was always present to help out in defence, while never shying away from getting forward and joining up in attacks. Got the only goal of the game with a brilliant dink over Thibaut Courtois to win it for his team. Dependable as always.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
The Barcelona midfield general was booked just two minutes into the game and had to walk a defensive tightrope for the rest of the night, but kept his discipline. Gave away the ball a touch too many times than one would expect him to, but remained solid for most parts to ensure his side controlled the midfield battle.
Arthur Melo: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup having made complete recovery from his injury, the Brazilian international’s return marked a more offensive intent and control for Barcelona in the middle of the park. Kept things ticking over and was always on the lookout to start attacks. Taken off for Arturo Vidal for the final twenty minutes.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
Having been uncharacteristically quiet in the previous match, the Barcelona club captain looked in his elements on Saturday night as he was a constant threat to the Real Madrid defence with his dribbling and movement, but couldn’t quite have the impact he usually does. Was on the receiving end of some strong challenges from Sergio Ramos, which got him frustrated.
Luis Suarez: 6/10
Having fired Barcelona to a victory in the midweek game, the Uruguayan failed to have a similar impact in the weekend tie. Forced a save from Courtois in the first period, but that was as good as it got for him in terms of goalscoring opportunities. Worked hard at the top, providing Barca an outlet to relieve pressure.
Ousmane Dembele: 6/10
Did not offer the same level of threat and precision that he did during the week, when he had managed two assists. Was a danger with his pace, but not able to back it up with quality on the end product. Had an effort miss narrowly, when he could have laid it on a plate for Suarez.
Arturo Vidal: 7/10
On the field for the last twenty minutes or so, after he came on to replace Arthur. Put in a real shift and broke up attacks expertly to help his team secure a clean sheet.
Philippe Coutinho: N/A
Replaced Dembele in the 78th minute. Looked short of confidence and sharpness.
Nelson Semedo: N/A
Injury-time substitute for Busquets.