Real Madrid got one over Barcelona with an emphatic 3-1 victory earlier today at the Camp Nou to open up a six-point gap between themselves and the Catalan giants. Barcelona showed plenty of initiative throughout the game but failed to make the most of their chances and succumbed to Real Madrid's forward forays in the second half.
Barcelona have now only managed a single point from their last three La Liga games and Ronald Koeman will need to turn his club's season around. The Blaugrana did show a few positive signs against Real Madrid but will now have to take it up a notch in the next few weeks to keep pace with their arch-rivals.
The game got off to a frantic start as both sides found plenty of space across the pitch. Real Madrid drew first blood within five minutes as Federico Valverde caused chaos in the Barcelona box with his well-timed run and gave Zinedine Zidane's side the lead.
Barcelona hit back almost immediately with Ansu Fati storming into the penalty area and adding an exquisite poacher's goal to Jordi Alba's cross. The two Spanish giants continued to exchange chances at opposite ends of the pitch before settling into a defined rhythm.
Lionel Messi played in a central role against Real Madrid and nearly scored for Barcelona before the half-hour mark but was denied by an excellent save from Thibaut Courtois. Karim Benzema nearly put Real Madrid ahead at the other end but placed his shot too close to Barcelona shot-stopper Neto.
Barcelona started the second half on the front foot and pressed forward in search of their second goal. The Catalans could have gone ahead after an excellent cross from Ansu Fati found Philippe Coutinho in a good position but the Brazilian failed to get his header on target.
Sergio Ramos punished Barcelona at the other end as a dubious and controversial VAR decision handed Los Blancos a penalty. The Real Madrid captain's contentious goal gave his side a crucial lead and Barcelona were left with a difficult proposition for the remainder of the game.
Ronald Koeman decided to flip the proverbial coin and introduced Griezmann, Braithwaite, and Dembele towards the end of the game in a desperate bid to steal a point from the game. Real Madrid made the most of Barcelona's lack of midfield structure to score yet another goal and came away from this fixture with all three points.
Barcelona Player Ratings
Neto - 7/10
Neto kept Barcelona in the game in the first half with a save from Karim Benzema and made no errors with his distribution. The Brazilian goalkeeper also made three stunning saves in the second half and was unfortunate to be on the receiving end of three goals.
Gerard Pique - 6.5/10
Gerard Pique arguably could have done better with his positioning for Real Madrid's opening goal but made several interceptions throughout the game. The Barcelona defender did have several tense moments against Benzema but was able to keep the Frenchman quiet for most of the game.
Clement Lenglet - 5.5/10
Clement Lenglet had a good game in the first half but effectively turned the tide in Real Madrid's favour with a needless pull of Sergio Ramos' shirt in the penalty area. The French centre-back has been prone to several careless moments in the recent past and will have to work on this aspect of his game.
Jordi Alba - 6.5/10
Jordi Alba started the game well and his forward runs for Barcelona bore fruit as the left-back bombed into a penalty area and bagged an assist for the Catalans' only goal of the game.
Sergino Dest - 8/10
Sergino Dest made his debut in El Clasico today and put in a near-flawless performance. The American teenager's pace gave Vinicius Junior several headaches and his dribbles in the final third were the cherry on the cake. With Ronald Koeman placing plenty of emphasis on youth, Barcelona's new right-back is seemingly ready for his breakthrough season.
Sergio Busquets - 5.5/10
Sergio Busquets did not enjoy the best of games against Real Madrid and lost Federico Valverde in the build-up to Real Madrid's opening goal. The Barcelona veteran was uncharacteristically sloppy with his passing and was not at his best.
Frenkie de Jong - 6.5/10
Frenkie de Jong was comfortable on the ball and gave a good account of himself in the first half against the likes of Toni Kroos and Casemiro. The Dutch midfielder spent large periods of the game covering for Jordi Alba on the left flank and still has room for improvement at Barcelona.
Philippe Coutinho - 6.5/10
Philippe Coutinho played in a wide position against Real Madrid and did create his fair share of chances for Barcelona. The Brazilian midfielder had an excellent chance to put Barcelona ahead in the second half but was unable to direct his header into Thibaut Courtois' goal.
Pedri - 6/10
Pedri was tidy with his passing but was unable to make much of an impact on the match from his wide position. The 17-year-old talent has plenty of potential with the ball at his feet but will need to take it up a notch at the Camp Nou.
Ansu Fati - 7.5/10
Ansu Fati started in a central role against Real Madrid and had an exceptional first half against Barcelona''s arch-rivals. The 17-year-old became the youngest goalscorer in El Clasico history with his goal and continues to grow under Ronald Koeman this season.
Lionel Messi - 6.5/10
Lionel Messi did have a massive influence on Barcelona's attacking play against Real Madrid but still looks to be well below his best at the moment. The Argentine talisman completed his dribbles and created several chances but was unable to end what has now become a goalscoring drought by his standards.
Antoine Griezmann - 6/10
The Frenchman was left on the bench tonight and watched most of the game on the sidelines. Griezmann had only ten minutes on the pitch and did not make much of an impact.
Francisco Trincao - 6/10
Trincao was given some time on the pitch as Barcelona looked to claw their way back into the game but did not see much of the ball in the closing stages of the game.
Ousmane Dembele - 6/10
Ousmane Dembele was brought on for Sergio Busquets to inject some pace on to the flanks. The Barcelona winger did make a few good runs but failed to trouble Real Madrid's defence.
Martin Braithwaite - 6/10
Martin Braithwaite was given less than seven minutes on the pitch to make an impact. The Barcelona striker did show plenty of initiative but could not affect the scoreline.
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