Real Madrid suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to rivals Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu – a defeat that will crank up the pressure on boss Rafa Benitez.
Luis Suarez (2), Neymar and Andres Iniesta got the goals that ensured the La Liga champions moved six points clear of their rivals. The home fans jeered, whistled and held up the white hankies to show their displeasure at such a result.
Los Blancos were looking to get back on track following their loss to Sevilla last time out. And with Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the line up, there was plenty of optimism around the stadium that Real could get the goals they needed to overcome their freescoring visitors.
But what they hadn’t expected was for the midfield and defence to go AWOL throughout, inviting Barca to attack wave after wave.
Before kick off, both teams lined up on the field and the stadium fell silent as the French national anthem played to remember those who lost their lives in the attacks in Paris last week.
Once underway, Real actually started quite brightly, dominating possession in the opening seven or eight minutes without creating a clear cut chance. But after just 10 minutes, Luis Enrique’s team had the lead with their first attack. Sergi Roberto danced his way around Toni Kroos and Luka Modric before laying on a superb ball for Suarez. The Uruguayan curled the ball home with the outside of his right boot and wheeled away in celebration.
Madrid seemed to be shell shocked by that, but rather than respond, failed to get hold of the ball and calm things down. Time and time again, Barca cut their hosts open, getting particular joy out of Danilo who was all at sea.
The question wasn’t if Barca would score again but when. And it came on 39 minutes. Sergio Ramos stepped up trying to play the offside but mistimed his effort, allowing Neymar to run in on goal and fire under Keylor Navas. Things could have been even worse before the break but for Marcelo’s goal line clearance.
Madrid showed some sort of fight immediately after the break but any thoughts of a comeback were ended seven minutes into the second half when Andres Iniesta netted the third. Neymar confused the defence with a neat back heel and the World Cup winning midfield slammed home his effort into the top corner from 12 yards.
In response, and perhaps in a signal to Florentino Perez that he wants to do things his way, Benitez removed James and Marcelo for Carvajal and Isco. The changes had little effect. The Real midfield was non existent and the front three of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo were peripheral figures.
Leo Messi came on for Barca, as if things couldn’t get any worse, and fifteen minutes from time, the rout continued as Suarez finished off from a pass by the Argentinean.
The white flag had already been lifted by the home side, and Isco’s sending off for kicking Neymar 10 minutes from the end was a sign of frustration at the evening’s events.
Real boss Benitez now has huge questions to answer. Going into the under pressure because of a lack of free flowing football and talk of problems with senior players, his line up in the Clasico, and the lack of response to events as the match progressed will the pressure cranked up a notch or two.