Sunday night’s El Clasico – billed as the biggest test of Barcelona’s progress under the command of Xavi Hernandez – saw the Blaugranas sensationally pass with effortless ease and a touch of class reminiscent of their past days of glory with Lionel Messi after absolutely stunning La Liga leaders Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the disgraced striker from the Gunners who joined Barca in the winter transfer window, continued to shrug off any baggage from the past and powered through in his red-hot form, scoring a magnificent brace on his El Clasico debut. Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres then stepped up to complete the hammering. The victory ended the Blaugranas’ five-game losing streak to Real and stretched their unbeaten run under manager Xavi to 12 games.
“It can change the dynamics of the present and the future,” an emotional Xavi enthused.
“We had lots of chances and we were much better than Madrid, far superior. We deserved to score so many goals.”
“Of course we didn’t expect this scoreline, but we did everything we intended to do from the start,” beamed an equally excited Barca captain, Sergio Busquets.
“Everything went our way and we could have scored even more goals.”
Barcelona still sit 12 points behind Real but could close the gap to only nine if they win their game in hand against Rayo Vallecano.
“If we have a minimum chance, we will keep fighting,” Busquets said. “We know it’s going to be hard, but in football anything can happen.”
For Real it was in sharp contrast a humiliating night, to say the least. They were unfortunately without their top scorer Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy due to injuries. This was their first home loss in 24 league games and their biggest league defeat to Barca at home since 2015.
“We played badly and I planned the game badly,” said Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose future became uncertain after a loss as dramatic as this one. “I am sorry for the defeat and I am sad.”
Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez echoed the sentiment.
“The result says it all,” the Spanish defender said.
“We played badly and they played well. Nothing worked for us. It was our first bad match this season. Maybe we were too relaxed because of our advantage in the standings.”