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El Clasico: FC Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Match Review

A comprehensive, blow-by-blow recap of Barcelona's thrilling 2-1 El Clasico victory over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou

David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona rode their luck at times, but on balance were the better side in another exciting El Clasico showdown with Real Madrid, as a second-half winner from Luis Suarez secured a valuable three points for the Blaugrana. It had started so well at the Camp Nou as Jeremy Mathieu’s header appeared to send Barça on their way to a comfortable win. Alas, a Clasico is never that simple, is it?

Cristiano Ronaldo equalised with a composed finish in the first-half and it was then Real Madrid who threatened to run away with it at times. However, all that matters is how you finish and Barça were better in that respect with Suarez’ fine effort our just rewards for an improved second-half showing. Oh, and that four point lead atop La Liga headed into the international break. That too.


Real Madrid




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All the anticipation, all the pre-match build-up and expert analysis from the pundits – finally the wait was over. The time for talking had passed and it was time for El Clasico to begin. Culés from across the globe had flocked to the Camp Nou to cheer on the Blaugrana, hoping to inspire them to victory, hoping that we would avenge our humbling 1-3 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu and inflict misery on the visiting Madridistas.

Luis Enrique opted to name the same team that utterly dominated Manchester City in midweek; Sergio Busquets therefore had to make do with a place on the Barça bench as he returned from an ankle injury. Real Madrid also elected to field their strongest side – no surprises from Carlo Ancelotti as he kept the faith in his 4-3-3 system.

The pressure was on at the Camp Nou; which side would emerge victorious?


The two teams were greeted on the field by a raucous atmosphere at the Camp Nou, serenaded with an a capella version of the famous El Cant Del Barça. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck and I was only sitting watching at home. Imagine the excitement, the adrenaline flowing through the veins of the Barcelona players. Full of confidence with 26 wins from their past 29 fixtures, and raring to go after such an incredible welcome – it was no surprise that Barça started the better side.

Luis Suarez and Andrés Iniesta combined to good effect with less than two minutes on the clock – a one-two between the pair resulted in the former lifting a cute ball over the top of the Real defense to release the latter. The angle was far too tight for a shot on goal, so naturally, Iniesta elected to cross. Prodding the ball in low, Iniesta invited Suarez to attack the ball and go for goal but it was his midfield colleague, Ivan Rakitić, who got to the pass first, although his effort went wide of the mark.

Moments later, Lionel Messi announced his arrival with a sensational nutmeg on a Real Madrid midfielder – reminiscent of his midweek escapades against Manchester City.

Barça were playing with a swagger, Madrid looked worried, yet it was the visitors who had created the first real chance on goal.

And what a chance it was; a direct, driving run by Marcelo caused panic at the heart of the Barcelona defense and a misstep by Jeremy Mathieu played the entire Real Madrid frontline on side. The recipient of Marcelo’s reverse pass was Karim Benzema, but despite his role as "nine" in the Madrid attack, the Frenchman was selfless and opted to play another pass, a lofted cross to the back-post where Cristiano Ronaldo was running in, unmarked and ready to pounce.

No-one was near him. The cross was perfectly-weighted, inviting a volley from the reigning FIFA Ballon d’Or winner. Claudio Bravo was scampering across goal, but even the Chilean had no chance – provided that Ronaldo could direct his effort on target. Alas, much to the relief of Mathieu and the Camp Nou crowd, Ronaldo fluffed his lines. Choked. A golden chance rattled away off the underside of the bar.

Barça had gotten away with it, but this was a wake-up call. We’d been the superior side in the opening stages of the match and we needed this to be reflected on the scoreboard.

Step forward Lionel Messi? No...maybe Neymar? about Luis Suarez? Keep guessing...

Enter stage right, Jeremy Mathieu!?!

That’s right; the very same Mathieu who helped create Real Madrid’s chance was up at the other end, intent to leave his mark on the Clasico. In some respects, this was him atoning for Luis Enrique’s tactical blunder at the Bernabeu. Starting in his preferred central defensive position, Mathieu joined the likes of Suarez and Rakitić in the area to attack Barcelona’s latest set-piece.

It was free-kick from the left-flank, perhaps tailor-made for a right-footed delivery to curl the ball towards Iker Casillas and create panic in the Real Madrid backline. Well, unless you have Lionel Messi on your roster; the Argentine took the free-kick himself and his teasing delivery found the purposeful run of Mathieu who thundered home a header to bring the crowd to their feet.

Barcelona were ahead in El Clasico, not for the first time this season.

Before long, the Blaugrana had created chances that could have extended their lead – the most notable of which was Neymar’s gilt-edged chance on the half-hour. A loose aerial ball in the area prompted Gerard Piqué to contest with Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Pepe – only for none of the quartet to make contact with the ball.

The bounce was kind to Barcelona; the spin ensured that the loose ball found its way to Luis Suarez and whether the Uruguayan was going for goal, or aiming to find a teammate at the far post, his low cross/shot ended up at the feet of Neymar – who had the simplest of chances to finish to double Barça’s lead.

In theory.

Rather, what happened in reality was that the ball bounced up and Neymar’s "shot" turned into a miscontrol, a poor touch that quite literally gifted the ball back to Real Madrid and into the welcoming arms of Iker Casillas.

A golden chance, wasted. Oh, how Barcelona would come to rue and regret that miss as just moments later Real Madrid found an equaliser.

Maybe it had been coming? The warning signs had been there at least as another driving run, this time by Luka Modric, again right at the heart of the Barcelona defense caused panic and the Croatian midfielder offloaded the ball to Karim Benzema. What followed next was a moment of pure genius, complete and total brilliance from the Frenchman as he immediately helped it on with a sensational backheel.

Barça were caught off-guard. Gerard Piqué was rightfully wrong-footed and Cristiano Ronaldo, somewhat akin to a juggernaut, raced onto the pass and stabbed the ball past Claudio Bravo to stick a knife into the heart of Culés across the world. Calma, calma; Ronaldo was here...much to the chagrin of the Camp Nou crowd, Real were level.

In some respects, Madrid utilised that equaliser to finish the half in the ascendancy. They were creating more chances, stopping the Blaugrana from monopolising possession, or even gaining a slight lead in that particular battle. As the half drew to a conclusion, the possession was split 50:50, much like this match was finely poised and ready to turn at any moment.

For one brief second, it seemed as though Real Madrid had completed their comeback. Gareth Bale had the ball in the back of the net, converting from close range after a flick-on from Ronaldo, yet their joy was short-lived; the assistant referee was flagging for offside and Barça could breath another sigh of relief. Replays proved that Bale was onside when Ronaldo headed the ball on, but replays also suggested that Ronaldo was marginally offside when the cross was initially played in.

A tough call, but one that I feel the referee got right. But hey, I’m biased!

Claudio Bravo finished the half by tipping over a long-range rocket from Ronaldo as Barça clung on until the interval, riding Gerard Piqué’s incredible form as the Catalan centre-half performed not one, but two world-class sliding challenges to stop Bale and Ronaldo in full-flight. We had started the better side, but now it was Real who were dominating proceedings.

Where had we heard this story before? Indeed, would tonight have the same ending, or have Barcelona really learned from their mistakes on that October night?


Still, it wasn’t all bad. The two teams were still tied, so even if Madrid have probably edged the first-half, they hadn’t made us pay where it really counts. Not that they wouldn’t try in the second-half; within minutes of the restart the visitors had created another good chance and this time Barcelona had Bravo to thank for keeping Benzema at bay. It was an intricate move on the counter-attack, probably the best of the match as Ronaldo and Karim combined for a shot on goal, but Bravo was ready to make a fine save.

At the other end of the field, Barça weren’t creating much, but they were prompting a few poor challenges from the Madrid line-up. Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric had all picked up a caution before the 53rd minute for various bad fouls, while quite laughably, Ronaldo had also earned himself a yellow for a blatant dive. See, that’s what we had been reduced to – celebrating yellow cards, because plainly our football wasn’t giving us much to shout about.

With our control of possession a key concern, Xavi began to warm up in response. As it turns out, we didn’t need him.

All we needed was Dani Alves and his vision to pick out the run of Luis Suarez, who had split the Real Madrid defenders with his world-class movement. Ramos was playing him onside. Pepe was too slow to react and catch-up; the former Liverpool star was clean through and how about the finish? A far cry from his start to life in Catalunya, this Suarez had ice running through his veins to coolly slot the ball past the onrushing Iker Casillas. Less than an hour played at the Camp Nou and Barça were back ahead.

Hopefully this time it would be for good.

With a goal advantage, Barça continued to play the kind of disjointed football that we had previously seen in the opening hour of the match, although tellingly, Real Madrid lost their confidence. No longer were they in the ascendancy; they could barely string a few passes together at times and the game began to breakdown with multiple stoppages.

As always in El Clasico, the referee had a tough job determining where fouls had actually occurred and where the individuals were "exaggerating" to try and gain an advantage. Someone is bound to be outraged by some of the decisions, so Antonio Mateu Lahoz couldn’t really win – but let’s focus on the football.

A sublime run by Neymar on the counter-attack left a flurry of Madrid defenders trailing in his wake. It was a wonder goal in the making – so one could probably forgive Neymar for ignoring Suarez and going for goal himself. Unfortunately, his finish wasn’t up to the standard and a good chance went blazing over the bar.

Minutes later, Messi went close with an effort of his own – a trademark curling effort from the edge of the area that went inches wide of Casillas’ far post. Barça were pressing for a third and were creating the chances to grab it, but in a repeat of Wednesday’s performance, our profligacy in front of goal was back with a vengeance.

Another chance, another Neymar miss. This time Messi elected to hand him the chance ahead of Suarez and when the Brazilian sliced the ball wide, Suarez displayed his displeasure in a not dissimilar fashion to a Ronaldo tantrum. No harm, no foul though. Now it was time for changes for both camps – Raphael Varane replaced Pepe in the heart of the Real defense, while Sergio Busquets and Xavi entered the action to try and provide some midfield stability in place of Ivan Rakitić and Andrés Iniesta respectively.

Jese also came on, replacing Isco as Carlo Ancelotti contemplated going for broke. Real’s La Liga title hopes stood to take a significant blow with a Barcelona victory, but the threat of a third kept him from putting all his eggs into an all out attack-shaped basket.

Neymar paid the price for all his misses by being replaced by Rafinha with a little over five minutes left to go. Luis Enrique was embracing pragmatism in a bid to secure these three points, and I for one didn’t care one iota. The result was all that was important – not the 4-3-3. We would still push forward, just with fewer numbers and sure enough, we still created chances.

This time however our accuracy was good, but Iker Casillas was on hand to play the saviour for Real Madrid. Another fabulous Messi pass created the first opportunity while Jordi Alba’s electric pace and exemplary first touch created the shot – a prodded effort that was kept out well by San Iker. Moments later, Alba and Messi switched roles as the former created a chance for the latter – but the end result was the same: another tremendous save from Casillas.

With only a few minutes remaining in regulation, Real Madrid were still in with a chance of snatching a draw – all thanks to Iker Casillas. A couple of corners could have provided them with an equaliser, but two shoddy deliveries robbed them of that opportunity, Barça got their foot on the ball and played out the rest of the clock. The victory was secure – a four point lead at the top of La Liga was our reward.

Visca el Barça!

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,158
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Commenter list 1ONE1Y, Abdul95, Abhishek-Culé, Abohabiba, Adi.N00r, Anders Thomassen, AngelCul1, Antonio Moreira, AraibKarim, Ayush Tiwari, BDBarca, Barca Boy, BarcaBarca, BarcaLifer, BarcelonaCobayo1998, BertTheNerd, Catalan_Blood, Delano Heerkens, DerkSensei, DevilWithin, Dick Darlington, Eddie Pundell, FCB4Ever, FCBMo, FCB_Z8, FloFourFCBarca, GoBarca, Hazara fc, JordiBalboa, KiwiBarca, Lapulga, LocoZZZ, LotusV3, M. Elzi, MiB75, Midy286, Navz, NoImagination90, PG9, Piquénbauer, Ragnar_Lothbrok, Ruy Diaz, SUAD, Sebanovic, Skand_08, Som-i-Serem, Staralfur, Suarez's Dentist, Swn.Culé, Tokjee, UnderConstructionCule, VarkeychanT, Waje.y, Willis1984, Youssefyasser, Yuro_Doosh, Z Ahmad, abdulla0207, ade fox, akash verma, avyator, chamouco, craig00000, cule-since-1992, defeaning_silence, dinoh, el_uruguayo, elfonzo22, endico, farzan, feeya7, footballfordoze, hobo_barca, jithen, justdoit94, khanhung.tran, messism, msalmanz, nolet, oddsbodiSkins, paddymac1111, passenger, prime025, robyn_bird96, semperty, shirishstha, shubham2806, sid_barca, sudama.baraily, syredeathtrooper, uday kakoti, vireyda, waseem10
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 BarcaBarca 103
2 Delano Heerkens 93
3 Anders Thomassen 70
4 AraibKarim 62
5 dinoh 56
6 ade fox 48
7 feeya7 47
8 Z Ahmad 42
9 Ruy Diaz 39
10 NoImagination90 37
11 shirishstha 37
12 FCBMo 25
13 Midy286 25
14 Som-i-Serem 23
15 craig00000 21
16 AngelCul1 19
17 Swn.Culé 19
18 Sebanovic 18
19 jithen 17
20 Ragnar_Lothbrok 17
21 KiwiBarca 17
22 abdulla0207 16
23 Tokjee 16
24 LotusV3 15
25 syredeathtrooper 15
26 akash verma 14
27 vireyda 14
28 oddsbodiSkins 13
29 DerkSensei 13
30 Antonio Moreira 11
31 Lapulga 10
32 elfonzo22 10
33 FloFourFCBarca 9
34 Catalan_Blood 9
35 Staralfur 9
36 cule-since-1992 8
37 Eddie Pundell 8
38 uday kakoti 7
39 JordiBalboa 7
40 footballfordoze 6
41 Abdul95 6
42 LocoZZZ 6
43 Waje.y 5
44 UnderConstructionCule 5
45 shubham2806 5
46 Barca Boy 4
47 nolet 3
48 waseem10 3
49 chamouco 3
50 endico 3
51 paddymac1111 3
52 PG9 3
53 passenger 3
54 Suarez's Dentist 3
55 Youssefyasser 3
56 M. Elzi 3
57 sid_barca 3
58 Willis1984 2
59 Dick Darlington 2
60 Abohabiba 2
61 avyator 2
62 messism 2
63 Yuro_Doosh 2
64 DevilWithin 2
65 BarcaLifer 2
66 khanhung.tran 2
67 prime025 2
68 robyn_bird96 2
69 Adi.N00r 2
70 hobo_barca 2
71 sudama.baraily 1
72 Hazara fc 1
73 BertTheNerd 1
74 MiB75 1
75 farzan 1
76 BarcelonaCobayo1998 1
77 1ONE1Y 1
78 Navz 1
79 Piquénbauer 1
80 FCB4Ever 1
81 Ayush Tiwari 1
82 BDBarca 1
83 msalmanz 1
84 Abhishek-Culé 1
85 defeaning_silence 1
86 el_uruguayo 1
87 FCB_Z8 1
88 SUAD 1
89 GoBarca 1
90 justdoit94 1
91 semperty 1
92 Skand_08 1
93 VarkeychanT 1

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