The first Clásico in 35 years not on Spanish turf did not disappoint as we saw four goals in the first half and just the one in the second with plenty of chances and a mixture of poor finishing, poor luck and excellent goalkeeping the reason for that.
The game started in a strange fashion as Neymar went down and grabbed his ankle in the first minute. It wasn’t clear as to whether he would continue and it wasn’t clear as to how he hurt himself either.
In the end he managed to get back on the field and just as he did, after four minutes, Messi gave Barcelona the lead with a deflected shot off Raphael Varane.
Just minutes later, Barcelona were in again and Ivan Rakitic doubled their lead with a rasper on seven minutes. We hadn’t played 10 minutes and Barcelona had two goals and barely given Real Madrid a touch.
The reigning Liga and Champions League winners were not set to be embarrassed regardless of the authenticity of a preseason friendly Clásico. After 14 minutes, Mateo Kovacic made a strong run towards goal and drove low and beyond Jasper Cillessen after seeing off a couple of tackles and Real Madrid had finally settled down after a shaky start.
They had their second goal on 36 minutes when Real Madrid broke from a corner and Marco Asensio, the architect of the counter, wound up finishing it too. Jordi Alba misread the ball’s path and Asensio waited patiently for it to roll to him before he stroked past Cillessen. It was 2-2 and there were plenty more chances in between the goals as neither team seemed too intent on defending as rigidly as they might in an official game. The fans didn’t seem to mind.
The second half was just five minutes old when
Neymar put a free onto the instep of Piqué’s foot and he finished with ease to help Barcelona sneak their head back in front again. 3-2.
Neymar had his own chance but missed a one-on-one with Navas without hitting the target and just minutes later drove a shot over from a decent position.
There were countless more attacks and chances with Cillessen making an excellent save from Isco on one occassion and then from Isco yet again as he bent it around the post with his fingertips. But we didn’t see anymore goals, which seemed like a miracle as Barcelona claimed bragging rights in the first Clásico of the season.
With the preseason over for Real Madrid and Barcelona, attention now turns to the European Supercup for the former and the Spanish Supercup for the latter. If this game is anything to go by, and it probably isn’t, we might be in for some hot and heavy clásicos this season.