The team switched to a three man defence after 15 minutes and are now back on top of the league, though Madrid do have a game in hand
For the fourth season on the run, Barça have made a clear statement at the Bernabeu – that they still are the supreme reference point in the world of football. In a high voltage game, the team fought back from a first minute setback with ambition and majestic football. Three goals stamped their authority and ensured another historic win at the home of their great rivals achieved with their trademark style to retake top spot, though Madrid do have a game in hand.
It was the worst possible start for Guardiola’s team when a defensive mix up handed Madrid a goal after just 24 seconds as Benzama fired past Valdes. From that moment, Madrid sat back in defence and conceded possession to the much bolder Barça, whilst attempting to maintain a high line. Casillas made a great stop from Messi on six minutes and then on the quarter hour, Guardiola switched to a three man defence – taking maximum risk, but ensuring total domination.
Alexis goal reward for domination
Barça now began to strangle the life out of their hosts, who only threatened sporadically on the counter and although Ronaldo had the chance to make it 2-0 on 24 minutes, Busquets and Puyol were defending like giants at times. Then Messi slipped through the Madrid defence and released Alexis who unleashed a great shot past Casillas to draw Barça level. Tension began to rise now and by half time Barça had seen two cards – Alexis and Messi, both for dissent, though the team had committed just four fouls against Madrid’s nine, with just a single yellow card for the hosts.
Cesc heads home lovely Alves cross
If Barça had been unlucky at the start of the first half, they made up for that at the beginning of the second, when on 53 minutes a Xavi shot ricocheted off Marcelo to wrong foot Casillas and put Barça in the lead. Madrid desperately tried to pressure Barça as they tried to play the ball out, which in turn gave the increasingly dangerous looking Barça more space to counter. Ronaldo again blew a chance which would have drawn the teams level just past the hour mark and almost immediately after, Cesc headed in at the far post after a great cross from Alves.
With the scores at 1-3, Madrid got even rougher and the cards began to flow. The hosts were now playing with more heart than head, as they desperately played catch up behind a Barça team who were revelling in their exquisite one touch possession football, exemplified by a brilliant Iniesta action on 80 minutes. There were even chances to stretch the lead, but in the end, Barça’s superiority was such as to leave no room for doubt: their beautiful football, the style that defines this team came out top for all the millions of viewers who watched as the Barça philosophy continues to stamp its mark, season after season on the footballing world.