Mathieu headed home a Messi free kick to make it 1-0 / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

CAMP NOU RISES TO THE OCCASION: There were 98,760 people packed into the stadium, a record attendance for this season, and the team was welcomed onto the pitch by a spectacular mosaic honouring the crowd’s role as Barça’s number 12 player. And the fans certainly did show their class on Sunday evening, keeping right behind the team during a difficult period towards the end of the first half and cheering them all the way through a tremendous second half display.

COLOSSAL CENTRE BACKS: Busquets was still not quite one hundred per cent, as Luis Enrique has admitted before the game, so Mascherano took his place as defensive midfielder, with Mathieu and Piqué joining forces in the centre of defence. That duo recovered ten balls each, tied with Jordi Alba with the best tally of the day, and Mathieu also provided the first goal thanks to an impeccable header. And whenever Madrid did find a way through, Claudio Bravo was there to save the day.

WHITE DANGER: Neymar missed an excellent chance to make it 2-0 on the half hour and moments later Madrid equalised through Cristiano Ronaldo, thanks to a wonderful back-heeled assist from Benzema. For the rest of the half, Barça were under constant pressure, and Bale even had a goal disallowed for offside.

SUÁREZ TO THE RESCUE: The wonder-goal from Suárez after 53 minutes changed the whole course of the game. Barça finally started to play at their best and Madrid paid the price for so many squandered opportunities. The Catalans, playing very direct football, generated all the pressure towards the end of the game and were rarely threatened at the back.

FURTHER AHEAD: The 2-1 win leaves Barça four points clear of their nearest rivals in the title race with just ten games to go. The only negative aspect of the result is that the head-to-head goal difference in the case of a tie between the two teams works in favour of Real Madrid, who won 3-1 at the Bernabéu earlier on in the season.

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