There was a time when winning at the Santiago Bernabéu was a rare treat for Barça fans. These days it become almost routine! Saturday’s 1-0 win was the ELEVENTH in all competitions in the last decade and the second in just four days!
And while the 3-0 victory on Wednesday secured a place in the Copa del Rey Final, tonight’s could be no less important for it has put an almost definitive margin of twelve points between Barça and their traditional rival, and also keeps Atlético Madrid at more than an arm’s length.
The win may not have been as spectacular as the one on the cup semi-final, but in many ways it was a far better overall performance from the blaugrana. Barça dominated the game from start to finish, Marc Andre Ter Stegen was very rarely called upon, and though only one goal split the teams, it would very hard to argue that the best team won.
That goal came from the feet of Ivan Rakitic. The assist from Sergi Roberto was his impressive sixth against Real Madrid, and the Croatian’s finish had nothing to envy of the cheeky confidence we would normally associate with Leo Messi.
If there was any standout performance, then Arthur’s midfield mastery might be the one, but this was a true all-round team performance in which every man did his job to perfection – including the rock-solid defence, with Clement Lenglet and Gerard Piqué both coming to the rescue on the few occasions when the home side looked threatening.
It was a classic for the football connoisseur rather than for the drama. Messi sent an attempt skimming across the face of goal, Luis Suárez was denied by a fine save from Thibaut Courtois and Ousmane Dembélé fired narrowly wide, but it was workmanlike football rather than out and out attacking pressure that smothered Real Madrid out of the game.
Perhaps it’s easy to say these things with retrospect, but it never felt like a game that Barça ever really looked like losing.
It’s also one that stacks further records onto their Clásico heap. They have become the first team to win four consecutive league games at the Bernabéu, and have finally ended their decades-long battle to usurp Madrid in the all-time Clásico count, which they now lead 96-95.