Barcelona thrashed arch rivals Real Madrid 5-1 on Sunday, in a game which could seal the fate of Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui.
Luis Suarez netted a hat trick whilst Arturo Vidal and Philippe Coutinho also got on the scoresheet. Marcelo scored consolation for Lopetegui’s side, who looked lost for the majority of the game.
Barcelona moved back to the top of La Liga after a stunning performance against their bitter rivals. Madrid, however, now sit in ninth place, with this game showing that there is clear need for change at the club.
Here are five things we learned.
5. Barcelona Can Cope Without Lionel Messi
Barcelona proved that beating Inter without Lionel Messi during the week was not a flash in the pan result.
Their convincing victory over Madrid showed how good a team Barcelona are, and how much talent Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has to work with.
Hat-trick hero Suarez, Jordi Alba, and Philippe Coutinho were standout performers for Barcelona, whilst a return to form for Ousmane Dembele was also a welcome sight for the Barca faithful.
4. Real Madrid Can’t Cope Without Cristiano Ronaldo
It was a test for both sides as this would be the first El Clásico in 11 years to not feature Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Whilst Barcelona proved they are very dangerous even without Messi, Madrid struggled to cope without Ronaldo. Madrid missed a big game player against Barcelona, with Ronaldo holding the record for the most El Clásico goals for Madrid.
Los Blancos haven’t replaced him properly and will have to buy a world class striker in January to salvage their season.
3. VAR Is Proven to Be a Force for Good
Luis Suarez’s first half penalty was given after referee Sanchez Martinez consulted VAR. The initial call from the ref was that it wasn’t a penalty, but after he had a closer look at Raphael Varane’s tackle, he correctly gave the penalty.
The goal was pivotal to Barcelona’s performance, as this goal seemingly gave them the confidence to pull away from their Madrid rivals. It is left to speculate what might have been had the penalty not been given, with the game only at 1-0.
2. Julen Lopetegui’s Time Is Coming to an End
He’s been a dead man walking for weeks, but this result could be the end of Lopetegui’s wretched tenure at Madrid.
Lopetegui looked a broken man at times on the sideline, as nothing went for his side yesterday. Madrid looked on the up after half time, Marcelo’s goal proved that. After Luka Modric hit the post and Karim Benzema headed over from six yards, it was clear to see this wasn’t Lopetegui’s day.
Barcelona were rattled for a period of the second half, but Luis Suarez saved the day and guided Barcelona to a massive victory.
1. Ernesto Valverde Seemingly Learning From the Past
Last season when Barcelona capitulated when attempting to defend a lead in the UEFA Champions League against AS Roma; and this result is something which Valverde has undoubtedly learned from.
Valverde doesn’t usually try to extend the lead when Barcelona go comfortably in front, but this El Clásico fixture was a different story. Ousmane Dembele was brought on with the score at 2-1, and he made a massive contribution to the scoreline.
He had a hand in Barcelona’s third goal, whilst showing incredible skill to set up Arturo Vidal for the final Barcelona goal. Dembele showed Valverde what he is capable of, and his performance has shown Valverde how dangerous Barcelona can be when all their attacking options are utilised effectively.