El Clasico 2015: picture gallery
Madrid were outdone in Rafa Benítez’s first clásico as coach – a clásico that saw him fielding a side that was so misled. When they did briefly attack they found Claudio Bravo stopping them. The manager who has been rather defensive opted for a more assaulting side than anyone had anticipated, employing a 4-2-3-1 that somehow looked more like a 4-2-4 and was not effective. Madrid were as depressing as Barcelona were marvellous.
They were trailing after mere 10 minutes. There was never any possibility that they could find a way back into this and unless they get better there is no way they will be able to stay in the title race either. Messi’s absence was supposed to be their strength but the seven-point swing has gone Barca’s way in the last two months. It may yet increase further.
It finished 4-0 and it could have been even more. It had started early.
Sergio Ramos was effectively drawn towards him, and Roberto nudged the ball into the space right behind him, now occupied by Suárez, who curved it first time low into the far corner. It was his 14th goal of the season, and his 11th in the 11 games that Barcelona played without Messi. So that was Suárez’s score; the next goal was, almost inevitably, Neymar’s. He, too, interestingly scored his 11th goal in the 11 knocks that Barcelona have been without Messi.
Things could not be any worse for Madrid. Or perhaps they could. Messi was waiting eagerly to come on the ground. He may not have been absolutely needed in the game, and the prospect is a frightening one for every Barcelona opponent. He had half an hour ahead of him that he could savour. He hit a free-kick into the wall, led a clever ball in to Suárez and also had a shot blocked when he offered one to Neymar’s backheel, before initiating the move for the fourth. Suárez netted it, sitting Navas down before kicking the ball into the corner.
Here are some of the best moments from the El Clasico 2015.