A hat-trick from Luis Suárez capped a perfect performance from Barcelona as thumped a hapless Real Madrid 5-1 at Camp Nou.
Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring from Jordi Alba’s cross before VAR handed his former Liverpool teammate the chance to double their advantage from the penalty spot.
Suárez converted but Marcelo brought Los Blancos back into the game after half time.
Two strikes from Suárez and a header from Arturo Vidal followed as Madrid capitulated in front of a jubilant home crowd as Barcelona returned to top spot in La Liga.Embed from Getty Images
Camp Nou’s colourful display of unity before the match filtered down to the players in red and blue. The hosts’ opener was typically stylish and efficient with Jordi Alba cutting through the Madrid backline before finding Coutinho who slid the ball past Thibaut Courtois.
Barcelona continued to produce compelling, passing passages of play which completely contrasted the visitors’ efforts at finding an equaliser. Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos all went for individual glory from distance but all found Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s comfortable grasp.
Los Blancos’ attempts to play in the final third were being mirrored in and around their own penalty area. Ramos and Nacho gifted the ball to Barça on the edge of the box but, luckily for them, Courtois was equal to Arthur’s curling shot.
Technology intervened to award Luis Suárez a penalty after his initial calls were waved away by the referee. Suárez slotted past Courtois to notch his 7th Clásico goal since joining the Catalan club in 2014. Natural right back, Álvaro Odriozola watched on from the bench as Nacho was being tortured by Alba.Embed from Getty Images
Barça’s Brazilian midfield duo of Arthur and Rafinfa were controlling play and the latter should have found Alba’s bursting run in the closing stages of the first half. Nacho, panic in his eyes, would’ve been relieved to see Rafinfa’s overhit pass roll through to his goalkeeper’s hands.
Gerard Pique, ever the archetypal villain for those in white during a Clásico, didn’t get the desired connection on a Suárez cross, his eventual header skewing off the side of his head and landing away from immediate danger.
Tactical switches from Julen Lopetegui at half time proved an instant hit as Los Blancos got on the scoreboard five minutes after the restart through Marcelo’s third goal in successive games. The Brazilian, moved up into a left wing-back role, got on the end of Isco’s deflected cross to smash past Ter Stegen.
After ten minutes of the second period, the pendulum had already swung in Madrid’s direction as they hunted for an unlikely equaliser. Luck was on Barcelona’s side as Luka Modric’s low shot came off the post and rolled agonisingly across the six-yard box.Embed from Getty Images
The woodwork at the other end of a captivated Camp Nou was struck by Suarez’s acrobatic effort as a panicked Barcelona side responded by the only way they know how. By attacking. Benzema should have punished the hosts’ gun-hoe approach but couldn’t guide his header under the bar from close range.
Real Madrid’s lack of a finishing touch was then underlined in their own penalty area when Suarez nodded a pragmatic header past Courtois at his near post to stretch Barcelona’s lead back to two. Lopetegui had said prior to the Clásico that he expects to ‘keep breathing’ in the Real Madrid job after the trip to Camp Nou but his team’s chances all but died when Suarez completed his hat-trick with an exquisite chip over Courtois.Embed from Getty Images
And then, as it seemed Real Madrid had hit rock bottom, they sank even lower. Ernesto Valverde’s two substitutes combined as Ousmane Dembele crossed to Arturo Vidal to make it five. The fallout, in the dressing room and boardroom, will be nuclear at the Bernabéu. Julen Lopetegui was a dead man walking before the first whistle, he cut a harrowed figure on the touchline as the final whistle sounded to signal the almost inevitable end to his tenure as Real Madrid head coach.
Barcelona didn’t even have Lionel Messi.