Clásicos always carry extra importance and this time was no different. Both teams had started the season well with Madrid sat in second and Barça topping the table, just three points ahead of their rivals. This was a chance to either draw level or extend the lead.
Before the game, the build up talk was all about one man. Lionel Messi was on the edge of a return from an injury he picked up in September and there were rumours that he would be back in time for the trip to the Santiago Bernabéu. The inclusion of the Argentine on Friday's squad list only heightened this excitement. Throughout Saturday it was decided that a decision on Messi would be left till the last possible minute and that decision meant Barça's number 10 started from the bench.
The players emerged from the tunnel to an excited crowd with both sets of supporters thinking this is chance to get a result over their main title threat. So as the game started it was a familiar look of the inform Neymar and Luis Suárez upfront for Barça and it was Sergi Roberto who made up the front three.
In typical Clásico fashion, the game started feistily. Before there was even a minute on the clock, Sergio Ramos flew into Suárez in a tackle that personified a derby but it was Suárez who was involved in the first chance of the match. Receiving a pass, Suárez delicately laid the ball off into the path of Neymar. The Brazilian couldn't keep the shot down but it was a promising sign of things to come.
That's not to say Madrid weren't looking threatening. James Rodríguez and Benzema were both playing their first club games after injury and the latter almost marked it with a goal. Cristiano Ronaldo drifted over to the right wing and fired in a low cross which, had it not been for Claudio Bravo's strong palm away, Benzema would've surely scored a tap in.
But this being a Clásico, you have to make those chances count and just two minutes later Barça punished them. Roberto, starting a Clásico for the first time, picked up the ball in the centre of the field and produced an excellent dribble towards the Madrid box. With Suárez loitering behind him, Ramos seemed caught in two minds about whether to go out to Roberto or to follow Suárez. He elected for the first option and as soon as he pushed up a yard, Roberto fed the ball to the now open Suárez. Returning to the ground in which he made his Barça debut, he marked the occasion with a goal. Cooly firing the ball into the far corner and out of the reach of Keylor Navas.
It was 1-0 Barça and the Catalan's dominance was starting to show. The Madrid players seemed to be lacking match fitness and were routinely a yard away from their Barça counterparts. The pressure was building and the visitors were searching for their second. Ivan Rakitić fired a shot over before Neymar saw a free kick saved.
Andrés Iniesta was looking like a man who was enjoying himself and in particular enjoying finding Roberto. A cross field ball found Roberto and it was these two, along with Rakitić, that almost got Barça their second. Iniesta worked space in the centre and slid the ball to Rakitić. The Croatian fizzed a ball into Roberto but the La Masia graduate got too much on the ball and it sailed over.
If Madrid were going to get a goal back, it was looking like it would come through. A rare dispossession of Sergio Busquets meant the Columbian was allowed a shot but it was matched by Bravo.
Again, another missed chance for Madrid was to be punished by a Barça goal. Iniesta, running at the Madrid box, slipped in a ball through into the path of Neymar. Beating the offside trap by the smallest of margins, he shaped up in the box and blasted the ball at Navas who could only deflect it into his own net. 2-0 Barça and Luis Enrique's team were looking like they were in cruise control.
Madrid were desperately needing half time and it was almost game over before then. Neymar bursting down his favoured left side cut the ball into the path of Suárez and had it not been for a well placed Marcelo it would've been 3-0 and goodnight Madrid.
Half time came and the home fans whistled their team off the field.
Real Madrid did respond at the start of the second half. A charging Marcelo skipped over the sliding Gerard Piqué but he fired his shot wide of the near post. A few minute later, James again forced a save out of Bravo. Gareth Bale found the Columbian just outside the penalty area and the number 10 hit his shot hard and low but Bravo got down to meet it.
A few minutes later, Navas was the one needing to make a great save. A free kick yards outside of the area was curled by Neymar towards Real's goal but Navas just got fingertips on it. However he was left powerless with the next effort on his goal. Collecting the ball just inside Madrid's half, Iniesta dribbled then slid the ball to Neymar. The Brazilian back heeled it before the captain fired the shot into the top right corner. Navas couldn't get close to it as Iniesta continued his habit of scoring in Clásicos.
With Madrid fans rightfully feeling annoyed by what they were seeing, their evenings were only made worse on the 56th minute. The man who dominated the build-up talk was about to make an appearance. Messi swapped with Rakitić and Luis Enrique couldn't have hoped for a better scenario to bring him into. 3-0 up against a Madrid side that looked a way off being match fit is just about the perfect time for Messi to come on and get some minutes.
It wasn't long before Messi was involved in the build up to a goal. Just after the 74th minute, Messi's pass was flicked into the path of Suárez who raced towards goal. Navas went low too early and Barça's number 9 was more than happy to dink it over him for Barça's fourth.
Enrique's final sub was Iniesta for Munir and the former was met with a standing ovation from the Madrid fans. A well deserved recognition of the stellar performance he had put on. The team were searching for the fifth goal but despite Pique's best efforts it ended 4-0. A home thrashing was made a little but worse with a red card to Isco. Neymar skipped passed him and the midfielder swung out a late leg before seeing the red.
The game finished 4-0 and Barça fans jubilantly clapped their players off the pitch.
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