Once upon a time… the Santiago Bernabeu was electrified and ready to go as the first Clasico of the 2015-2016 season was about to start. Rafa Benitez and Real Madrid were hoping to shake off a slightly bumpy start to the season and a win against a Messi-less Barcelona could really get their season back on track. Meanwhile, Barcelona would have to initiate the game without Messi who had not fully recovered on time to start the game but would come off the bench if needed. In for him was Sergi Roberto alongside the deadly duo of Neymar and Luis Suarez.
From the first whistle, it was clear Catalan dominance. A masterful game in which the away team dominated the ball and didn’t allow Real Madrid to maintain the ball and create many chances. Even individual plays by Cristiano Ronaldo would amount to nothing and the frustration began to grow.
Just 11 minutes into the game, Sergi Roberto received the ball in the midfield and made a dashing run in between the Madrid midfield and defense and when he was able to drag out Sergio Ramos out of position, he slipped the ball through to Luis Suarez who was kept onside by Danilo. Suarez, oddly enough, shot it with the outside of his right foot and into the bottom corner past Keylor Navas to open up the scoring.
Just over 15 minutes later, trouble emerged for Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano picked up an injury and was forced to end the game prematurely and in came the infamous Jeremy Mathieu who was known for his consistent screw ups but yet also had a reputation for stepping up against Madrid.
In yet another counter attack, Barcelona were able to double up the lead in the 39th minute. After Luka Modric lost the ball, Barcelona quickly pounced on the opportunity and took advantage of Real Madrid’s practically absent midfield and Iniesta took care of the rest. He did his famous Iniesta-scoop pass to Neymar on the wing who was kept onside by Sergio Ramos. As Ramos raised his hand asking for the offsides, Neymar controlled the ball and shot it under Keylor Navas and into the back of the net. An ugly shot which Navas should’ve handed better had doubled Barcelona’s lead and the Suarez/Neymar partnership had struck again.
Late in the first half, Barcelona almost added a third after a great play again by Neymar down the line and Suarez’s shot was cleared off the line by Marcelo who had tracked back to prevent the complete Madrid meltdown.
The third goal seemed inevitable and despite a more offensive Real Madrid side in the second half, it was the Don himself who closed the curtain on the host. A beautiful one-two between Iniesta and Neymar exposed the invisible Real Madrid midfield which allowed Iniesta to run unmarked and strike home the game’s third goal of the game. The goal was Iniesta’s first La Liga goal since March 23, 2014 when he scored against, you bet, Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. It was all celebrations for the blaugrana as Iniesta went to celebrate with Lionel Messi who was warming up on the sidelines.
Messi made his return with the game already sentenced 3-0 but his team had their foot off the accelerator and would look to coast through the rest of the game. But it was Real Madrid’s lack of shape in the back that led to the game’s fourth goal and Suarez’s brace. Messi got the ball on the wing, dribbled it a bit like he’s so accustomed to, and found Jordi Alba weirdly playing in the center forward position. Alba found Suarez with one touch and just like that, Real Madrid’s defense had broken down again. Suarez was kept onside by Barcelona’s MVP of the night: the great Danilo. A solo Suarez run faked out Navas before he chipped it past the Costa Rican and into the net for the fourth.
Humiliation mixed with anger surround all of the Bernabeu and the Madrid players were undoubtedly frustrated. Substitute Isco let out his frustration in an idiotic and dangerous foul on Neymar and immediately saw the red card to leave Madrid with 10 men late in the game.
Pique had a chance to score the legendary fifth goal late in the game but Munir chose to ignore his request and shot the ball horribly off a cross with Pique looming in the back post. Surely Madrid fans had horrible flashbacks of Pique holding the manita up from 2010…
Barcelona’s humiliating 4-0 win marked the first time since 2010 that they swept Real Madrid in a calendar year. It was the final prize of the incredible 2015 for Barcelona who had won 5 out of the 6 titles. For Real Madrid, it added fuel to the fire that was Benitez’s Real Madrid. Humiliated at home again and had shown little fight and horrific defending.
The Clasico is coming up on Saturday and the tables have turned this time around. It’s now Madrid that are having a great year and Barcelona who seem unable to reciprocate their 2015 level. A Clasico is a Clasico and the results are never what you expect. With that being said, I don’t think it’ll be a 4-0 win for Barcelona this time around. But don’t worry Barca fans, regardless of the score, you’ll always have 2015.