LaLiga leaders Barcelona cemented their dominance over rivals Real Madrid with a hard-earned 1-0 win on Saturday night.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five things we learned from the latest El Clasico showdown at the Bernabeu.
Barca do the business
While it was far from a vintage performance, Ernesto Valverde’s side still had more than enough to see off what little threat Los Blancos could muster. On another night, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez could have added to Ivan Rakitic’s fine first-half goal. Real Madrid, though, once again failed to deliver the required performance.
Jury out on Bale
Gareth Bale had found himself in the headlines following a somewhat muted response to the team’s celebrations after his late penalty in the LaLiga win at Levante. Recalled to the starting XI by Santiago Solari, the Wales forward sent an early free-kick over the bar and from then on, things went downhill before he was eventually replaced by Marco Asensio, to some jeers from the home support, as he slumped off into the dugout.
While there is little love lost between any of the Barcelona and Real Madrid players, there was almost an unsavoury flashpoint at the end of the first half when Messi tangled with Sergio Ramos, before appearing to be caught in the face by a trailing arm from the Real Madrid captain. The duo squared up before eventually calm was restored. They should, of course, know better – especially given how many young fans will have stayed up late to watch their heroes in action.
Record breakers Barca
Following another lacklustre Clasico showdown, Real Madrid’s last league victory in the fixture was back in April 2016 when Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo helped secure a 2-1 win at the Nou Camp. Barcelona, meanwhile, have now edged ahead by 96 wins to 95 and become the first away team to win four consecutive games at the Bernabeu in LaLiga history.
Concentrate on the Champions League
Despite seemingly now having no hope in the domestic title race after Barcelona moved 12 points clear of them, all is not yet lost for Solari’s men as there is the small matter of another successful defence of their European crown to deliver. With a last-16 tie against Dutch club Ajax, Los Blancos are expected to still have a major say in the Champions League – which could just yet save their season.