Whenever Barcelona and Real Madrid meet, the rest of La Liga takes a back seat to El Clasico. In the 242nd edition, history was on the table. Barcelona had a chance to go ahead of Real Madrid in the all-time series with a win, but after already losing at home on Wednesday, surely there was no way Madrid could lose at home again?
La Liga Weekend: Barcelona Assert Dominance Over Real Madrid
Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
For the first time since 1932, Barcelona have beaten Real Madrid more times than the reverse. Barca went 96-95 ahead in the all-time series with yet another victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. The game was one of the more defensive affairs this rivalry has seen in recent memory. Barcelona got an early goal from Ivan Rakitic and held Madrid for the remaining 70 minutes.
Unlike the game in midweek, this game was more about Barcelona’s defending than Madrid missing chances. The centre-back partnership of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet was simply outstanding. They were breaking up play, making clearances, blocking shots and winning headers – the two did everything they had to.
When they weren’t enough, a few strong saves from Marc-Andre ter Stegen bailed them out. Madrid were able to carve out chances, but not the clear cut ones that they missed in the Copa del Rey game midweek. This time they were half chances, the type that a world-class goalscorer might finish.
This game will mostly be remembered for its historic circumstances and Sergio Ramos. The Madrid captain was once again flying around doing his thing, like catching Lionel Messi in the face with an elbow. Messi was not too happy about it, giving Ramos a stern talking too as they butted heads like two elk.
That takes nothing away from the job done by these Barcelona players. From Gerard Pique to Ivan Rakitic to Sergi Roberto and Sergio Busquets. Their play caps off the crowning achievement of a generation. To rewrite the history of this rivalry and make Barcelona the team on top is no small achievement at all.
Going into this game, it felt like Real Madrid had the upper hand. They had been playing the better football lately, before their loss to Girona two weeks ago they had won ten out of 11, but they have now lost three straight games at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since 2004. Barcelona became the first team ever to win four straight games and two games in 72 hours at the Bernabeu – that’s not a good look.
So Santiago Solari and his side will have to regroup quickly and save their season. The only thing that can do that is if they progress in the Champions League. They have a one-goal lead headed home to the Bernabeu against Ajax but are without their elbowing captain, Ramos, who is suspended. Madrid are the favourites, no one in their right mind could imagine them losing four straight at home, right?
Elsewhere in La Liga
Getafe continued their strong push for Champions League football going, away to Real Betis and getting a 2-1 victory. That scoreline between these teams tempts the imagination to think this game was all Betis possession and a Getafe smash-and-grab but, in actuality, it was far different: Getafe dominated this game.
The visitors outshot Betis, with the home side creating nothing resembling a chance before their late goal from Joaquin. Getafe seem to be the only team in the range of that fourth spot that have really tried to take it. They are winning games and gaining points, unlike many of their rivals, like Sevilla, who lost away to bottom club Huesca.
The Relegation Battle
Due to that win for Huesca, the relegation race has been ripped right back open. Huesca have been rock bottom all season but now sit only four points behind 16th. Thanks to three wins in their last five, Huesca are only one point behind Rayo Vallecano and Villarreal. Celta Vigo sit in 17th, just two points ahead of those two, and playing with a defence of a team looking for relegation.
It’s tough to pick a worse defense in La Liga between Celta Vigo and Villareal. The two have squads and budgets that warrant far better than a battle for the drop but, with the way they are playing, they both could be going down this season. Even with Celta naming a new coach on Sunday, it doesn’t look like anyone can save their season.