Title punch in Bernabéu! Champions humiliated despite Navas’ heroics

FC Barcelona, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Santiago Bernabeu, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Delhi, la liga, Spain, El classico, football, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Casemiro
Title punch in Bernabéu! Champions humiliated despite Navas' heroics

The first el classico game of the season was supposed to be a crucial one in the title race, and that’s exactly what happened.

There were two things which were debated before the game—Whether Cristiano Ronaldo will start and will Real Madrid bounce back to beat the leaders and reduce some gap?  Though Ronaldo played entire 90 minutes, the second one saw a reverse.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal scored once each as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-0 to open a 14-point gap against their bitter rivals. But had it not been for Keylor Navas the holders would have sunk in more goals.

Before the opening whistle, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos presented the FIFA Club World Cup trophy to the fans at the Bernabeu and the home fans erupted in joy but that proved to be the only consolation on an otherwise dull day.

Madrid’s hunger for the win was clearly visible from the very first minute. Zinedine Zidane’s men started as aggressor despite seeing Gareth Bale, Isco and Marcos Asensio start from the bench. They dominated the possession and built some serious moves, but not good enough to break the deadlock.

However, once Barcelona found their footing things started changing. Soon it started looking all square in the Spanish capital. Both teams tried their luck but failed to break the deadlock in the first half. Ronaldo once headed the ball in the post but he was in an off-side position. Navas made a superb save from Paulinho’s volley to ensure that his side go in the break without any disadvantage.

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The second half saw more intent from Barcelona. 80,264 people watching the match witnessed an utter silence in the 54th minute as Luis Suarez capitalised on another defensive lapse, which had become a usual thing by then. That opened the gate for more. 9 minutes later, Keylor Navas made a series of saves before he was beaten and Daniel Carvajal tried to save a shot that was on its way to the nets and even went in, with his hands. Ultimately he was shown a red card and the resulting penalty was converted by Lionel Messi for his 25th goal of the El Classico history and 526th for Barcelona, making him the highest scorer for a single club in Europe, Gerd Muller had 525.

Once down 2-0, it was anyways going to be a huge mountain to climb for the European champions and that too with just 10 men. Isco, who had started warming up, was soon back to his seat as red card to Daniel Carvajal meant that Zidane had to make a technical change in form of Nacho.

Once Bale was introduced he threatened a bit but could not make much difference. Immediately he forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into two brilliant saves but those hardly had any effect as Aleix Vidal sealed the game in the third minute of injury time to seal the win and probably the title.

The win was Barcelona’s 14th in 17 la liga games and took them 14 points ahead of Real in points table. They are yet to lose a game in domestic league this season.

Navas saves Madrid

Keylor Navas made some stunning saves to keep his team in the game till the last minute. He just got enough on a volley from Paulinho in the first half and made some good blocks. He saved at least 6 tough chances. If not for Keylor behind the average defensive line the scoreline would have been completely different.

Benzema, Ronaldo fail to create impact

Madrid were horrible all around the pitch. Marcelo didn’t look at his usual best and neither did any other defender or striker.

Benzema headed a cross from Marcelo on the post and wasted some good balls. Ronaldo missed an easy opportunity from his ‘weaker’ left foot as he failed to make the connection when goal at his mercy. He also created some more moves but could not finish.

Delhi also made noise

There is this feeling that football is not as popular in India as other games but ask any one of the thousands, who were there at the NSIC ground in Okhla. As La liga organised a live screening, there were thousands of fans who were eagerly whistling and supporting all the moves from their favourite team. With all due respect to some smaller European clubs, there were probably more fan for the live screening than the seating capacity of few grounds.

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