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‘We color football’ proclaimed the pre-match mosaic, and if anyone could possibly have doubted that, then the 90 minutes that followed were living proof.
Barça put five goals past their historic rivals, playing astonishing football in a performance that we’re going to be remembering for a long, long time. Pure magic … and Leo Messi wasn’t even playing!
It was an uncharacteristically chilly October afternoon in the Catalan capital, but it didn’t take Barça long to get warmed up. After ten minutes they moved in for the kill.
What a build-up. One minute and 33 seconds. 30 passes involving all eleven players. Ivan Rakitic picked out Jordi Alba down the left. Where Messi is normally lurking, this time the full-back’s pass found a total unmarked Philippe Coutinho.
And that was goal number one.
Everything was shining. Orchestrated by a magnificent Sergio Busquets, the football was flowing freely and confidently in the direction of Thibaut Courtois’ goal. It only seemed a matter of time before the Camp Nou would be celebrating again.
VAR to the rescue
In days gone by, Raphael Varane would have got away with his shove in Luis Suárez’s back. But now we have VAR. And it’s first ever use in Clásico history proved the Uruguayan was right to protest.
The same man slotted in a fine penalty, dedicated it to his newborn son, and that was 2-0 … with only half an hour played.
Have the first 45 minutes of a Clásico ever been as one-sided as that? Barça were waltzing it.
Blancos wake up
But as Ernesto Valverde warned this week, a wounded Madrid is a dangerous Madrid.
Shortly after the restart, a counter attack ended with the ball landing scrappily in the Barça area. Marcelo was onto it and suddenly things weren’t looking quite so pretty.
Luka Modric hit the post at one end. Suárez did likewise at the other. We had a game on. It may have been great for the neutrals, but it was far less placid from a home fan’s perspective.
Suárez again… and again!
Barça needed to get back on top. And boy, they didn’t half do that … and the rest!
Sergi Roberto’s ‘mini-cross’ to Suárez on the edge of the area was a peculiar choice. But it worked. The number 9’s head made perfect contact, Courtois was beaten and that was 3-1.
We could breathe again. And moments later the celebrations could truly begin. The same duo were involved, Sergi Roberto snapping up a Sergi Ramos’ error and teeing up Suárez to complete his first Clásico hat-trick.
The finishing touch
Barça were well and truly twisting in the sword. And there was still time for more. Ousmane Dembélé flipped the ball over to fellow substitute Arturo Vidal and that was five – La manita… The ‘little hand’!
Surreal scenes. A dream performance. So impressive that we’d completely forgotten about a certain Argentinian.
Anyone who has ever said Barça would be nothing without Messi had better think again! That was truly sublime...
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