Barcelona came out of the Santiago Bernabeu victorious, and put the pressure on Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. In thrilling fashion, el clasico once again showed us why it is the most watched match in football.
Real Madrid started the game fast, and looked to set the tone with aggressive pressure. Barcelona was having none of that. By minute six, as Lionel Messi charged at that Madrid defense he found Andre Iniesta on the left. Leaving the Spaniard wide open to put the ball past Diego Lopez…vintage Barcelona. As things started to settle in the match, two quick goals by Karim Benzema put Madrid on top. Angel Di Maria’s brilliance started to fuel the Madrid attack. Things went back and forth. Both teams had even shots on target, and things started to shape up for a match to remember. Going into halftime the score stayed at 2-1 to Real Madrid. That changed quickly as Lionel Messi scored by shooting in the corner past a diving Lopez. 2-2 at halftime. Lionel Messi showed us the world class first touch he has to retain possession in a tight space to put his name on the score sheet.
The second half started with Barcelona settling things down. Possession was in favor to the Catalans. But by the 54th minute, the first controversial call of the game was given. A penalty was given on a tackle that Dani Alves attempted. Ronaldo was brought down in what seemed to be just outside of the penalty box. Eventually, Ronaldo put his name on the score sheet by scoring from the spot. 3-2 advantage to Real Madrid. The advantage was short lived in the fact that Sergio Ramos was characteristically sent off by clipping Neymar’s legs in the penalty box. The Spanish defender was shown red immediately as he squandered a goal scoring opportunity to Neymar. Lionel Messi stepped up, and equalize to level the score line. 3-3 and the advantage and momentum was in Barcelona’s favor. The pressure by Barcelona pinned Madrid’s attack, and left them with all their players defending in their own half. Barcelona did not let this opportunity go to waste as Iniesta drew contact from an angry Xabi Alonso. A clumsy tackle on his Spanish teammate gave the opportunity for Messi to score his third. After scoring three and the fourth goal for Barcelona, Messi became the first player to score a hat trick at Real Madrid’s home ground.
The win for Barcelona gives them all three points, and put them only one point behind Real Madrid, and leaders Atletico. Messi deserves the man of the match award. The Argentine scored back to back hat tricks, and was the deciding factor in the match. If the La Liga race was tight already, it just got a whole lot more interesting.