Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona: Luis Suarez debut ends in defeat

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  • Neymar gave Barcelona the lead after just four minutes at the Bernabeu against La Liga rivals Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo equalised with a penalty in the 35th minute after a handball in the box by Gerard Pique
  • Pepe gave Real Madrid the lead in the 51st minute before Karim Benzema made it 3-1 later in the second half

It is four months since Luis Suarez sunk his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini and absented himself from football for his brief sabbatical. 

On Saturday evening at the Bernabeu he re-emerged and time away from the game had not withered him nor has psychiatric counselling dimmed his spirit. But good though he is, he cannot yet conjure miracles.

He may have added intensity, ferocity and guile to an already formidable Barcelona attack – but as a collective unit they do not have the tools to stop Cristiano and Co at present. 

The world’s most richly-decorated football match, which, even without the injured Gareth Bale still boasts a comfortable majority of the world’s top 10 footballers, produced a spell-binding match of attacking intent which further suggests the balance of power in football’s universe in tilting in favour of Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo at present.

Karim Benzema, scorer of the third goal, left the pitch to a standing ovation having led the way to a comprehensive victory which might have been more embarrassing for Barca. 

Of course, Ronaldo was a key contributor, as was Isco while Luka Modric and Toni Kroos meanwhile were simply magnificently neatly efficient at the base of midfield.

And while Suarez shone whilst his fitness allowed, Lionel Messi and Neymar flickered only in moments, Xavi looked a 34-year-old short of game time and Andres Iniesta made a rare, awful error to gift Real their third. 

Indeed, when the Bernabeu groaned angrily at Marcelo for failing to play in Ronaldo for a fourth goal, even with the 90 minutes already up and the game won, Real’s dominance was clear. 

The game was won but the crowd wanted more; they wanted humiliation. They contended themselves with a chorus of ‘Viva Espana.’ It was not a night for Catalan pride.

One thing about El Clasico: for all the cacophonous noise and pomposity of anthems played at ear-splitting decibels prior to the game, once the football starts it does at least live up to the pre-match fanfare and expectations.

The pre-match is like a Don King fight, the only difference being the hype delivers.

The ‘King of Kings’ banner celebrating Real Madrid’s 10 European Cups had barely been put away, the music had only just died down, when the tiny knot of Barcelona fans were celebrating in the far corner of the Bernabeu.

Inevitably the goal involved that man Suarez, his glorious, cross-field pass finding out Neymar in just the third minute. 

Pepe and Sergio Ramos seemed not to appreciate the danger, backing off and allowing the Brazilian time to come across goal and permitting him space to shoot. Given such an invitation, a clinical finish was inevitable.

The goal sparked a frenetic response. Real Madrid played as if infuriated, throwing men forward, with Barcelona creaking.  

Even Messi seemed unnerved, crashing into Kroos and earning a yellow card, the first of four Barca would accumulate in that first half.

Ronaldo was predictably at the heart of their best efforts, crossing for Benzema, whose header crashed off the bar and whose strike from rebound blazed over.

This is a game so infused with attacking talent, with teams so inclined to get on the front foot, at times they appear to be setting new standards for what great football looks like. 

But tough chances abounded, finishing didn’t always match the required standard. Suarez again from the right hand wing sent in delicious cross and Messi, impossibly, from six yards out, missed. Neymar, similarly, mis-kicked from four yards out. Pepe make a crucial intervention, heading away as Suarez lurked to score.

The former Liverpool man truly is a phenomenon. His four-month ban had seemingly not dimmed his aggression or ferocity. Here was the familiar figure of last year’s Premier League, darting back and forth, a blur of motion and action in Barca’s attack.  

Real Madrid had to re-establish their grip on the game and they did so through right back Marcelo driving into the penalty area on 34 minutes. 

His cross induced Gerard Pique to collapse to the ground in an attempt to block and in doing so handling the ball. The penalty was inevitable as was the finish from Ronaldo: a crisp, unstoppable striker into the bottom right hand corner.

With the scores level, finally the game calmed for a brief period. It could hardly not, having been played at such intensity, pace and verve for the previous 35 minutes. Even Suarez must have been desperate for the break.

The brief truce couldn’t survive half time. Messi played in Dani Avles, flying forward, on 47 minutes but his cross was blocked as Suarez lurked once more, ready for his moment. 

Real responded pouring forward, as Benzema released Ronaldo. As he shaped to shoot a goal beckoned, but Pique, sliding in, blocked for the corner. 

No matter. Toni Kroos trotted away to take the kick and delivered beautifully, a cross full of pace and precision that was signposted for Pepe at the far post. The Portuguese connected as a centre half should: heading the ball firmly, resolutely into the bottom corner.  

The Bernabeu was itself again, full of noise and confidence and twirling scarves. Barcelona hadn’t conceded in La Liga this season; it was a record always unlikely to survive this outing.

Not that they would retreat. Sergio Ramos needed a crucial sliding clearance to prevent Messi from connecting with a Neymar pull back, which would almost certainly have led to an equaliser. Even then, Jeremy Mathieu hit a remarkable strike from 35 yards which Casillas dived to save spectacularly.

But the flow of the game was with Carlo Ancelotti’s men. Barca looked to be tiring and Iniesta as good as confirmed the fact with an uncharacteristic lazy touch that allowed Isco to break and feed Ronaldo, who turned and played the ball to James. 

The Colombian touched a pass on to the advancing Benzema, who finished quite splendidly, pulling his shot across goal and past Claudio Bravo.

Barca’s suddenly appeared terribly brittle and vulnerable, exposed frequently at the back by the pace and width of Real. Mascherano’s fine sliding challenge prevented Ronaldo adding to the scoring on 65 minutes. 

Minutes later Dani Alves needed to do the same to stop that man again, leaving the world player of the year in a complaining, crumpled heap. Suarez departed on 68 minutes: he had run his course, done his best but ultimately, it looked to be in vain. 

 


 



 


Source: Daily Mail Uk

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