Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Barca still on top

Real Madrid were billed as favourites in some quarters going into their clash with Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Fifteen straight wins and scoring goals for fun – surely they would halt Barcelona’s El Clasico dominance?

The home side got off to a dream start. Not even 30 seconds were on the clock when Karim Benzema gave his side the lead from a Victor Valdes error. The majority of the 80,000 fans packed inside the stadium were dreaming of a victory which would have taken them six points clear of their fierce rivals. Those following the Spanish football betting will have known this.

Real were buoyant and pressed Barcelona at every opportunity. The Catalan giants looked rattled.

You can never keep a good side down, though, and Barca found a way back into the game after half an hour. The mercurial Lionel Messi fed Alexis Sanchez, who finished brilliantly past Iker Casillas.

The goal took the wind out of Real’s sails and they never recovered. They will point to a moment just before half-time when Messi was lucky to avoid a second yellow card, but, in truth, they were second best after Barcelona settled into the game.

Xavi scored with a deflected effort from outside the box to give Barca the lead, before Cesc Fabregas rounded off an excellent move to make the game safe.

Not for the first time, Messi completely outplayed Cristiano Ronaldo and led his side to victory over their bitterest of rivals. Question marks will remain over Ronaldo’s big-game temperament, while Messi can do little wrong. Even the referees can’t bear to see him leave the field.

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