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FC Barcelona: Class in El Clásico, humiliate Real Madrid 4-0

In this column, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his thoughts on FC Barcelona's 4-0 destruction of Real Madrid in El Clásico on Saturday night. Xoel talks the match, Sergi Roberto shining, Leo Messi's return and how it's all over for Cristiano in Madrid.

Real Madrid 0-4 FC Barcelona
Real Madrid 0-4 FC Barcelona
Twitter.com/XoelCardenas

MADRID — FC Barcelona went into the Santiago Bernabeu and dismantled Real Madrid, as El Blaugrana defeated Los Blancos 4-0 in a cold night in Madrid on Saturday night.

Within the first 30 seconds of the match, Gerard Pique touched the ball and as immediately booed and whistled. Neymar had a good look at goal in the seventh minute, but his shot from atop the middle of the box went high. Claudio Bravo made a good save in the ninth minute on a Cristiano Ronaldo cross deep inside the box.

Luis Suarez got the scoring started in the 11th minute, as a great pass by Sergi Roberto found Luisito and the Uruguayan slotted it past Keylor Navas for the 1-0 lead. Surgical play by Sergi and Suarez with the excellent finish. Barcelona is the first team to score in 20 consecutive Clásicos (previous record, by Barca, was 19 in 1987) [Via ESPN].

Neymar had a good shot via a free kick in the 24th minute, but his shot was easily saved by Navas. Roberto had a strong shot go high and over the bar just a minute later. Javier Mascherano was unable to continue due to injury, and was replaced by Jeremy Mathieu in the 27th minute. Raphael Varane made a nice clearance on a low Barcelona cross inside the box in the 30th minute. Ronaldo elbowed Dani Alves just a minute later, but no card was shown to the Portuguese. Bravo nearly made a big mistake when he lost the ball in the 38th minute, but nothing came from it.

Neymar made it 2-0 in the 39th minute, as Andres Iniesta setup Ney and the Brazilian got the ball under and past Navas for the second Barcelona goal.

And Lionel Messi loved it!

Marcelo saved Madrid from a third score from Barcelona, as he saved a Suarez shot that was going in.

Marcelo with a selfish play just as the second half started, as he went for goal instead of looking for a teammate. Bravo had another diving save on a James Rodriguez shot in the 48th minute. Navas had a solid save on a Neymar free kick in the 52nd minute.

Iniesta made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute, as a lovely back heel pass by Neymar found Don Andres who put in a golazo!

Messi made his return to the pitch in the 57th minute, replacing Ivan Rakitic. Bravo made the save of the night in the 68th minute, as he stopped Ronaldo on a one-on-one counterattack.

Saurez got the fourth goal in the 74th minute, as Luis stayed onside and scooped it over a helpless Navas. A brace for Luisito.

Bravo once again saved Barcelona in the 80th minute, as he saved a Karim Benzema header on goal. Isco was sent off in the latter minutes of the match. Bravo denied a Ronaldo header from point-blank range near the end, which couldn’t come soon enough for Madrid. The white handkerchiefs were out on display, as Madrid was booed off the pitch, and FC Barcelona was crowned victorious in El Clásico.

Baño at the Bernabeu.

FT: Real Madrid 0-4 FC Barcelona

Xoel’s Take

In my preview column, I said anything is possible in Clásicos. As we saw on Saturday, anything was possible…including a destruction of Real Madrid by Barcelona. I honestly believed it would be a tighter match, but only one team showed up for the match, which, of course, is great that it was Barcelona who showed up.

I mentioned previously that Ronaldo was capable of breaking out of his bad run at any moment. Looks like that’s not going to happen. In El Clásico, CR7 was M.I.A., only showing up when he elbowed Dani Alves and when his attempts on goal were saved by Bravo. Madridistas booed and whistled CR7 throughout the match.

It’s official: Cristiano Ronaldo is done at Real Madrid. If there was any doubt, his performance in El Clásico confirmed it. He turns 31 in February, and it’s time for Madrid to sell him. Ronaldo has peaked and not only because of his age, but it’s because of his performance — or lack thereof — over the past two years. I don’t feel sorry for him or Madrid, I’m just stating the truth.

Sergi Roberto made his presence felt in El Clásico. The Bernabeu will always be a special place for him, as he made his UEFA Champions League debut there in the famous 0-2 Barcelona win back in 2011. Four years later, Sergi was on point in Madrid. His pass to Luis Suarez for the first goal was spot-on.

The Sergi Roberto Renaissance continues. Proud of this kid and what he represents: overcoming the odds; sitting on the bench for years; never giving up hope; having patience; and winning over your manager, teammates, and the football world.

The Barcelona midfield had arguably its best match of the season. Rakitic, Iniesta and Busquets dominated the midfield and made players like James, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric nearly invisible. I honestly expected more from James against Barça, but he didn’t do much. This might have been the best midfield performance by Barcelona since the Champions League Final in June.

Gerard Pique had a great match. According to Squawka Football, Pique had a 96% pass accuracy, three interceptions, three blocks and three clearances. I’m sure the "symphony" the Bernabeu faithful played for him made his job even easier.

Claudio Bravo was my man of the match. His stops on Madrid shots on goal were tremendous, in particular, his stops on Ronaldo’s two close shots. Bravo was clam, cool, and showed why he’s the better overall goalkeeper than his teammate, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, as well as Madrid’s Keylor Navas. MAtS is still young and will improve, but Bravo has the experience and is the wall Barcelona needs to win this Liga. Grande Chileno!

Leo Messi returned to the pitch against Madrid. As I mentioned in my preview column, I felt I’d be best to start him on the bench. Luis Enrique made the wise choice to rest him for the first half and see how the match played out. I don’t know if Lucho expected the match to play out the way it did, but certainly he was happy with the result. Leo wasn’t needed for the win, which is a bit weird to say, but that’s credit to players like Neymar and Suarez who’ve taken over for the club while Leo’s been out. Leo did play a part in setting up the fourth Barcelona goal against Madrid. It was good that Messi got some match minutes in those legs of his. I expect him to start against AS Roma next week.

Welcome back, King Leo.

Neymar and Luis Suarez continue to be something special. I did expect Madrid to try and put more pressure on the duo, but they didn’t. Rafa Benitez decided to go with a more offense-oriented lineup and that came back to bite him. Neymar and Suarez had plenty of space to work with and dissected Madrid. Words aren’t doing Neymar and Luis Suarez justice. Simply special, simply magical on the pitch. Simply Neymar and Suarez.

It will be one of those matches we’ll all look back on for years to come.

FC Barcelona went into the Santiago Bernabeu and with an estimated 600 million people tuning in, dominated, destroyed, humiliated, and beat Real Madrid 4-0 on Saturday night. Barça now has a six-point lead over Real Madrid atop the La Liga table.

A win to remember, a magical night, and a team for the ages that continues to write and rewrite history.

Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya!

Xoel