Real Madrid were humiliated in the El Clasico as visitors Barcelona came out of the match with a 4-0 win courtesy of goals from Suarez, Neymar and Iniesta. Here are three things we learnt
1) Rafa gets caught between two things
Rafa Benitez may already be an unpopular figure for the Los Blancos faithful, but he known to get his game plan right on most occasions. Against Barcelona, it was clear that the Spaniard was caught between trying to do two things. The decision to not have Casemiro, someone who has done so well in recent weeks, indicated that Benitez had chosen trying to play attacking football over having an organized unit trying to just knick a win. The former Liverpool boss had to give in after massive amount of pressure.
This is what Marca reported mid-week: “During the usual dressing-room team talk, the players will have a bash at bursting their boss’s defensive balloon and make him see that what is required is an all-out attack on the Catalan outfit”
Giving in to the player’s whims certainly didn’t do the trick for Real Madrid and Benitez became the fifth Real manager in a row to lose his first Clasico following Juande Ramos, Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
2) Barcelona no more a one man team
Claims of teams being run by one man are extremely irksome for the most part but if anyone still thought Messi solely ran the show for Barcelona, they were heavily mistakened. Neymar and Suarez ensured Messi’s absence wasn’t felt in the attack as the duo grabbed three goals between them.
It wasn’t just the duo who were essential for the win. Sergi Roberto played extremely well, Andres Iniesta showed just why he is a midfield maestro and Claudio Bravo made brilliant saves to ensure the side also keeps a clean sheet against their arch nemesis.
There is not a shred of doubt about how much Messi adds to the Barcelona team. He immediately got into the thick of things as he was substituted on in the second half. But even if he wasn’t involved at all, Barcelona would have still won, convincingly.
3) Could this set the tone for another title for the Catalans?
Barcelona have now opened a six point gap between themselves and Real Madrid. Of course, it is just November and there is enough time for some twists and turns in the league. But the way Barcelona are playing at the moment, and more importantly the way Real Madrid are as well, it looks like the Catalans may well be en route to yet another title. The side will only strengthen with the return of Lionel Messi. January will also provide them the boost of Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal finally being able to feature for them.
Meanwhile, it’s only been about four months and Benitez is an unpopular figure among the fans, and reportedly among the players as well. Rafa needs to create something out of nothing for the 10 time European Champions to get back into the title race and do so convincingly.