La Liga holders Real Madrid succumbed to a grueling 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the El Clasico on Saturday, and this sees them potentially out of the title race, midway through the season. The Bernabeu outfit began the match on the front-foot as they tried to impose themselves but the teams went into half-time with a 0-0 scoreline. Barcelona took the impetus following the break with a Luis Suarez opener, and goals from Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal on either side of Dani Carvajal’s red card cemented a comfortable victory for the league leaders. The win sees Barcelona hold a 14-point lead over their arch-rivals, who do have an extra-game in hand, owing to their participation at the Club World Cup.
Three Things We Learned:
Cristiano Ronaldo’s average La Liga run continues: A lot has been spoken about the Portuguese’s patchy form in La Liga, and this was the case in the El Clasico. The Portugal international struggled to impose himself on a weakened opposition backline involving Thomas Vermaelen, but he still had Los Blancos’ best opportunity to score in the first-half only to fluff his lines with a shocking miss kick by his standards. Ronaldo has notched just four goals in 12 league outings this term.
Lionel Messi probably the best-ever: Prior to every El Clasico, there lies a debate as to who is the better player between Ronaldo and Messi. The Argentine started off in a relatively slow fashion on Saturday, before providing a brilliant lob pass for Paulinho to nearly open the scoring. Unlike Ronaldo, Messi has the gifted ability of finding his teammates with his intrinsic passing, and he made his presence felt with a penalty goal which was followed by a brilliant delivery to Vidal to complete the rout.
Barcelona in cruise control: With a 14-point lead heading into the break, Barcelona virtually have one hand on the La Liga crown, although Ernesto Valverde would not admit it. The Catalan giants have averaged just four defeats in each of the last five seasons, and even, a minor setback may not hamper their title prospects with Real Madrid having all to do in the second half of the season. Los Blancos potentially need to go on a long-winning streak to revive their title hopes, and this does seem like happening, owing to their lack of cutting edge upfront in certain games.
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