Barcelona’s Luis Suarez shone in the absence of Lionel Messi to register a hat-trick in an
embarrassing El Clasico for Real Madrid and their beleaguered head coach Julen Lopetegui.
Barcelona controlled the first period with ease, building a two-goal lead by the break through Philippe Coutinho and a Suarez penalty awarded by a Video Assistant Referee review.
The result leaves Lopetegui in a precarious situation after Madrid’s heaviest El Clasico defeat in
three years and Barcelona building a seven-point lead over their old rivals in the league.
Marcelo’s goal at the start of the second period briefly raised hopes of a comeback before a Suarez double and header from Arturo Vidal sealed the game as the visitors crumbled.
Madrid midfielder Casemiro told Spanish television after the match: “This 5-1 sums up our season so far.
We have played well in some moments, but that is this season – we are a disaster, all playing very bad, all of us.”
Coach Julen Lopetegui’s tactics
Lopetegui’s side started the match in startlingly naive and passive fashion, with Jordi Alba raiding their right flank where utility defender Nacho was playing at full-back.
Alba provided the opening goal when he cut-back to Coutinho from the bar-line, and the former Liverpool man swept past Thibaut Courtois.
Saurez won the penalty he converted, springing across Rapheal Varane with a near-post run.
Despite obvious contact from the defender, referee José María Sánchez Martínez waved away appeals for a penalty before changing his decision after consulting VAR.
Lopetegui switched to a back three at half-time with Casemiro moving back into defence, and Lucas Vazquez replacing Varane.
The alteration paid dividends when Marcelo got on the end of Isco’s cross from his \new, advanced wing-back position and turned home at the second attempt.
Barcelona seals Madrid’s fate
The game was effectively over when Suarez showed magnificent reflexes and striker’s instincts to
turn home Sergi Roberto’s cross with a stunning header from fully 14 yards.
A sumptuous dinked finish over Courtois secured the hat-trick, before fine work from substitute Ousmane Dembele assisted Vidal’s headed goal to complete the rout.
Even so, it is only five points behind new leader Atletico Madrid, which won on Saturday.
Under-fire Lopetegui has so far maintained the public support of players such as captain Sergio Ramos and heavyweights Marcelo and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon.
“They believe in me and I believe in them,” Lopetegui said.
“And that goes to show that we are working well and working hard, and have the motivation to please our fans.
We are heading (to Barcelona) with the maximum ambition.”
Real Madrid statistics
Madrid hasn’t lost in its last four visits to Barcelona, although those results came under Coach Zinedine Zidane
and with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the team that he left in the offseason for Juventus.
Lopetegui is toast after that. It was laughably easy for Barcelona to play their way through at will – and all without Lionel Messi.
Barcelona have weaknesses of their own, so this is arguably a more embarrassing result for
Real than when Pep Guardiola’s generational team beat them 5-0 in 2010-11.
Luis Suarez rolled back the seasons with his hat-trick and was at the heart of everything good Barca produced today.
It seems inevitably over for Real Madrid’s manager, Julen Lopetegui or what do you think?