FC Barcelona won its most important win of the season thus far, as El Blaugrana defeated their eternal rival Real Madrid 2-1 in El Clásico at the Camp Nou on Sunday night.
Crisitano Ronaldo had the first chance in the 12th minute, as CR7's stayed onside, but his shot hit the crossbar. Jeremy Mathieu—yes, Mathieu—made it 1-0 in the 19th minute, as Lionel Messi's service into the box found the head of the Frenchman who headed the ball low and past Iker Casillas for the opening goal of the night.
Ronaldo equalized in the 31st minute as a lovely pass by Karim Benzema found CR7 who slotted it past Claudio Bravo for the 1-1. Just before Ronaldo's goal, Neymar had a wide-open chance to make it 2-0, but the Brazilian couldn't finish it.
In the second half, Bravo made a huge save on a Benzema shot in the 49th minute.
Luis Suarez gave Barcelona the lead in the 56th minute, as a lovely long pass by Dani Alves found Luisito who beat out Sergio Ramos and Pepe to the ball and slipped the ball to far post for the goal. Casillas could do nothing about it. ¡Golazo de Suárez!
Tempers flared in the 60th minute, as Javier Mascherano and Ronaldo scuffled. Cristiano kept his feet up as if he was trying to either trip or hurt the Argentine. Dani Carvajal looked to have earned his second yellow card in the 66th minute, but no foul was called. Neymar had Suarez to the right of him for an easy goal in the 68th minute, but Neymar selfishly shot it and sent the ball high. Messi nearly had a golazo in the 74th minute, but his shot went just wide of the far post. Neymar had another great chance soon after, but his shot went wide. Bravo made a crucial save in the 87th minute on a deflected shot. Jordi Alba nearly had a goal in the 86th minute, but Iker Casillas was there to make the save. Iker saved a Messi shot in the 87th minute.
Barcelona held on to take El Clásico and go up four points on Real Madrid in the La Liga table.
FT: FC Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid
I don't know if Neymar was just too anxious or what not, but he was poor against Real Madrid. Bad passes, turnovers and the miss that would've extended the Barcelona lead.
What's going on with Neymar?! This is not a new thing either. I understand footballers can have a bad game, but once again, Neymar had an off night in recent weeks. If he's tired, then OK. But if not, then Neymar needs to get his head straight. You can't make mistakes like he did against Madrid in the rest of the big matches Barcelona has coming up. Neymar needs to further grow up as a football—hopefully soon.
Neymar is wonderful, but can be a brilliant idiot at times.
Madrid lost their momentum in the second half
Maybe it can be said that Real Madrid played better, overall, than Barcelona in El Clásico...at least for the first 50 minutes. The first half was dominated by Madrid, and the first few minutes of the second half belonged to Los Blancos. Once Barcelona settled down, Madrid were unable to regain their first-half form. Isco didn't make his presence felt, neither did Toni Kroos. Ronaldo was quiet, Benzema wasn't around, and Gareth Bale was not mentioned for most of the second half.
Barcelona may have not performed at its best, but Real Madrid didn't do much to try and take the game in the second half either. Sometimes, all it takes is one play of brilliance to make all of the difference...see Luis Suarez.
The BBC was not broadcasting much for most of the night.
Claudio Bravo had a tremendous match against Real Madrid. The Chilean made great stops throughout the night and continues to show why he is the best goalkeeper in La Liga—yes, I said it. Gracias Claudio!
Messi: a bit quiet at first, then....
Lionel Messi had a quiet first half against Real Madrid, but made his presence felt in the second half. It's not surprising that Barcelona played much better in the second half when Leo was more involved. No one should be disappointed at all with Messi's performance, as he was good on the night. Sure, Leo didn't get a goal, but his presence, as always, dominates all the other aspects of the game. Messi's assist on the Mathieu goal and his second-half performance is just one example of endless examples how Lionel Messi controls every game he plays in.
Worth pointing out that Messi never dives. Always tries to stay on his feet. Not just a genius but a great example to all players.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 22, 2015
Never mind Messi's goal scoring records. Never mind that Messi's the best dribbler ever. Messi's also the best passer the game's ever seen.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 22, 2015
For those of you saying I'm up Messi's arse, can I say what a wonderful arse it is.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 22, 2015
Jeremy Mathieu: boss
When the lineup for this match was released, I wasn't surprised that Mathieu was in the starting XI, but I kind of wanted to see Marc Bartra get a start. But thank goodness Mathieu was there, as the Frenchman had a great game against Real Madrid. Who would've picked Jeremy would have scored a goal in this game?! Mathieu's defending was solid as well, making great clearances all night.
Merci Mathieu! I'll buy you your next cigarette.
Piquenbauer: all world
Gerard Pique continues his season of greatness, as Mr. Shakira was the best defender on the night...and not just for Barcelona. Pique was the defender on the pitch, easily better than any defender Madrid had on the pitch. Gerard's clearances, both of the header and slide type, were on point and crucial in Barcelona's win.
Gerard Piqué's game by numbers: 100% tackles won 88% pass accuracy 6 interceptions 5 clearances 2 blocks Classy pic.twitter.com/OAKDavqVlY— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 22, 2015
Gerard Pique is THE Defender! Shak— Shakira (@shakira) March 22, 2015
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Gran <a href="https://twitter.com/3gerardpique">@3gerardpique</a> ets el millor!!! Felicitats equip. A seguir. Visca el Barça!!!</p>— Carles Puyol (@Carles5puyol) <a href="https://twitter.com/Carles5puyol/status/579762840204087296">March 22, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Piquenbauer: the best CB of La Liga in 2014-15
Barça midfield struggled
Barcelona's midfield was not at its best against Real Madrid. Andres Iniesta started the game feisty, but fade later on. Ivan Rakitic played OK, and Javier Mascherano was not at his best on the night. The midfield can't have a night like this again. Barcelona had an awful first half and much of that is because the midfield was off. Madrid was able to control the tempo and Barça was fortunate not to have been down by halftime. Mids need to step it up.
Let me emphasis how important Sergio Busquets is for this team. He is a calming factor in the midfield, and now with a FIFA break upon us, Busi needs to get rest because he will be crucial in Barcelona's success for the final stretch of the season. I love Mascherano, but Busquets is the backbone of the Barcelona system.
Great to see Xavi get playing time in what is most likely his final Clásico in his historic career. Happy Xavi's last Clásico is with a win.
Luis Suarez: beast mode
Luis Suarez continues to show why he is the best number nine in the world. Suarez became the first Uruguayan player to score in a Clásico since Ramon Alberto Villaverde in 1960. Credit goes to Dani Alves for taking a chance and sending the long pass to "el pistolero" for the golazo. A perfect pass by Dani!
Suarez is fully in-form at Barcelona and when El Blaugrana lifts up trophies at the end of the season, Luis will be one of the main reasons. If it weren't for his revival as soon as the calendar hit 2015 (along with Messi's dominance), Barcelona would be lost as a team and in their trophy hopes right about now.
Luis Suarez will forever go down in Clásico history for his goal. It's a goal and a night Luis, Barcelona, and all of us will never forget.
El pistolero shoot down Madrid and possibly their Liga-title hopes. ¡Grande Luis!
Xoel's Final Word
FC Barcelona showed why they are the favorites to win La Liga, as El Blaugrana defeated Real Madrid 2-1 at the Camp Nou on Sunday night. Barça is now four points up over Madrid in the La Liga table.
Clásicos are never easy.
A hard-fought win for Barça over the eternal rival.
With the final stretch of the season upon us, it's now FC Barcelona's Liga to win.
Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya!