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The doubters who were still unconvinced by the Barça revolution under Xavi Hernández had been saying that this was going to the real test of how far Barça have come in the last few months. Real Madrid, runaway leaders in La Liga, winners of the last five Clásicos across all competitions, and at the Santiago Bernabéu…
What Barça did tonight was simply extraordinary. It was not just a fantastic performance, it was a performance that will go down in the annals of Clásico history. From start to finish, they absolutely devoured Real Madrid, dominating in every facet of the game and the extraordinary thing was not that they scored FOUR goals, it was the fact they didn’t score more!
It's a result that sits alongside the legendary 5-0 of 1974, the unforgettable 6-2 of 2009 and the majestic 4-0 of 2015.
Rarely has a Clásico been quite so utterly one-sided. Every Barça player was simply exquisite, although special mention has to go to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had a hand in three of the four goals, scoring two of them himself.
Barça have closed the gap on Real Madrid to 12 points and they do have a game in hand. The title race is not over, although logic still says that Real will go on to clinch the trophy. Barça squandered too many points early on in the campaign. But tonight’s display sends out an extremely powerful message. The blaugrana are very much back in business.
An El Clásico in black against yellow is an unusual sight, but the intensity of both the atmosphere and the football was the same as ever. But rarely is that intensity quite so lop-sided as it was tonight. Everything was coming from Barça, who took the game by the horns, dominating from the first minute and assisted by several unforced errors from a home side that was struggling find any kind of shape.
Barça had all the big chances, and the biggest of the early ones fell to Aubameyang who was denied at point blank range by some superb goalkeeping from Thibaut Courtois. It was just a taste of things to come.
Barça thoroughly deserved to be ahead long before they finally were. Ousmane Dembélé whipped in the most delicious of crosses and the Gabonese striker bravely lunged his head onto the end of it. Barça' were one-up at the Bernabéu, but that was just the start of it.
It was simply gorgeous to watch. Everything was clicking for Barça while Madrid looked lost for ideas. Other than an effort from Federico Valverde that Ter Stegen was wise to, and a Vinícius Júnior break that thankfully came to nothing, there was very little in the way of peril from the home side.
Meanwhile, Courtois was barely getting a moment’s peace as the Catalans drove forward in search of more… and soon got it! In came the corner and bang! Ronald Araujo was smack on the end of it to score for his first time in a Clásico. Two goals, both from headers, and things were looking very lovely indeed at the break. And after it they were only going to get better!
Poetry in motion
Barça fans had to rub their eyes to check they weren’t dreaming. They were embarrassing Madrid. The game had barely restarted before Ferran Torres was firing a wonderful chance wide by millimetres, but he almost immediately made amends.
Neat back-heel from Aubameyang and there he was to pop the ball in the top corner. 3-0!
Moments later and the roles were reversed. Torres played Auba through and he tidily clipped the ball home for what would turn out to be goal number four, but not without suspense. The flag had gone up for offside but the referee hadn’t blown anything and a VAR review revealed that there was nothing wrong with anyone’s position. Four!
Crack open the cava!
Madrid were well beaten. The only question on anyone’s lips now was how many more Barça were going to score. Chances aplenty there were… Auba so nearly capped his superlative performance with a third, Dembélé looked sure to score but his effort skimmed wide.
Rather than Madrid trying to make the score a little more respectful, it was more a case of them trying to prevent things from getting any worse. Barça, meanwhile, had no greater concern than enjoying the final few moments of quite remarkable night in the Spanish capital.
No, we were weren’t dreaming! It really did happen… Football can be so beautiful sometimes… Next up is an international break, but in two week’s time, there’s more to come! Força Barça!
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