Is there a better footballing team on the planet than Barcelona?
At the moment I would take Barcelona over anybody. Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Brazil or Argentina. Doesn’t matter. Barca wins.
Tonight Barcelona showed their class with a resounding 5-0 win over Real Madrid at the Nou Camp in a memorable El Clasico to usurp their rivals in style at the top of the La Liga table.
Real Madrid is no sister of the poor. They are probably the second best club team in Europe at the moment, and Barca destroyed them.
Xavi gave the hosts a 10th-minute lead as Pep Guardiola’s side seized the initiative from the off, before Pedro doubled their lead eight minutes later as the visitors were made to look sluggish in the face of Barcelona’s scintillating attacking play.
The second half followed a similar pattern of dominance from the hosts with Real humbled into submission as David Villa unleashed a clinical three-minute brace before substitute Jeffren Suarez added a fifth in stoppage time to crown an imperious display from Guardiola’s side.
There was a surprise inclusion for Karim Benzema in place of the injured Gonzalo Higuain, while Jose Mourinho resisted the temptation to effectively asphyxiate Barca – as he did last season in charge of Inter – with an additional holding midfielder, sticking with Mesut Ozil in his usual creative berth.
A vociferous atmosphere was created at the Nou Camp as the 98,000 Barca fans were handed placards to form a mural in the Catalunya colours, the hype giving way to a frenetic opening as Barcelona stamped their authority on the clash from the outset.
The hosts dominated the early possession, and almost found a sublime seventh-minute opener through a predictably inspired source as Lionel Messi unfurled an audacious chip from out on the right which beat Iker Casillas, but not the far post.
Guardiola’s side were in front three minutes later, however, albeit in slightly fortuitous fashion as Messi combined with Andres Iniesta out wide, before the latter’s through ball deflected off Marcelo into the path of Xavi, who kept his composure to poke the loose ball beyond Casillas.
Barcelona continued to stroke the ball around with consummate ease as they held their opponents firmly under the cosh, and the hosts doubled their lead in the 18th minute. A mesmerising 25-pass move culminated in David Villa hurtling to the left byline before cutting a precise delivery back into the path of the onrushing Pedro, who was able to simply tap home from just a yard out.
Amid all the exhilarating exchanges, the first half was littered with petulance from both sides. First, an exasperated Cristiano Ronaldo pushed Guardiola on the touchline to spark off an absurd melee, then a flailing arm from Ricardo Carvalho saw Lionel Messi mysteriously booked for diving.
Real were desperate to muster any kind of a resurgence, and Ronaldo took a tumble under a challenge from Victor Valdes just before half-time which provoked merely a withering look from the referee, but represented a source of grievance in the eyes of a few visiting players.
Mourinho acted swiftly at the break as he introduced Lassana Diarra at the expense of Ozil, but it was Barcelona who almost made an immediate impact after the restart as Carvalho was forced to make a sliding block to deny Villa from close range.
Barcelona were three up in the 55th minute as Messi slid an incisive through ball beyond Pepe, and Villa beat the offside trap with a perfectly timed run before planting an emphatic finish beyond the helpless Casillas.
It was quickly turning into a rout, and the same combination made a mockery of the visitors’ static and beleaguered defence once more as Messi picked out Villa, who thundered in another clinical strike just before the hour mark.
Just when it seemed as though Real’s humiliation could get no worse, substitute Jeffren popped up to make it five, bundling the ball home from Bojan’s cross out on the right. Mourinho’s first taste of an El Clasico could barely have been more inauspcious.
Carvalho could quite easily have been dismissed for a deliberate handball to deny Villa a goalscoring opportunity late on, but in an extreme case of leniency, the referee appeared to take pity on the defender and brandished the yellow card.
Madrid’s misery was compounded on the stroke of the final whistle as a mass brawl ensued as tempers flared with Sergio Ramos dismissed amid all the furore for a push in the face of Carles Puyol.
The comprehensive victory sees Barcelona leapfrog their rivals to the top spot in the La Liga table.