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Home / Sports Lists / The Return OF El Clasico: How Real Madrid Overcame their Catalan Rivals

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Last weekend saw the return of El Clasico, and the renewal of hostilities between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona at the magnificent Santiago Bernabeu.

In a thrilling encounter packed full of pace, aggression and stunning soccer, however, it was Real who emerged victorious and claimed their 71st El Clasico victory in the 168th league clash. Despite falling behind to Brazilian forward Neymar’s outstanding strike, goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Karim Benzema sealed an ultimately convincing victory for Madrid in front of their adoring public.

Arguably the ultimate contest in the world of soccer, the most recent battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona followed a familiar pattern. While Luis Enrique’s team were dominant in possession and keen to take the pace out of the game, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were content to play on the counter-attack and use their pace to penetrate in behind the Barcelona defence. This contrast in style brought dividends for both sides in the early exchanges, with Barcelona looking the sharper thanks primarily to the movement and combination play between Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi.

It was the first two players who combined for the opening goal, with Suarez feeding Neymar to curl into the corner after just four minutes. After this bright start and a glaring miss by Lionel Messi, however, the pace and direct nature of Real’s play began to ask questions that Luis Enrique’s men could not answer. The mobility and movement of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric at the heart of Madrid’s midfield was central to this transition, as both Xavi and Iniesta struggled to keep pace over the course of the ninety minutes. As Luis Suarez also began to tire in the second half, Barcelona simply began to wilt and had no way of controlling possession or combatting the energetic performance of the Madrid eleven.

It is a while since Real Madrid would have been considered as clear favourites for an El Clasico clash, but they were certainly favoured by pundits across the globe. While a quick glance at the Freebets Champions League Showdown may suggest that there is little between the two sides in terms of quality, Real’s depth of squad and pace makes them a formidable force to be reckoned with. The majority of Ancelotti’s side are also at their peak as professionals, while Barcelona’s leading lights such as Iniesta and Xavi no longer have the engine or energy to compete at the very highest level.

This was reflected during the game itself, while the sheer pace and power of Real’s display suggests that they have an excellent chance of retaining their Champions League crown in Berlin this spring.

 

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