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La Liga: El Clasico Delight for Los Blancos

Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona

Real Madrid are back on top of La Liga after two late strikes, courtesy of Vinicius Junior and Mariano, decided another pulsating El Clasico.

This showdown between the Spanish giants is one of the biggest fixtures in the European calendar and it didn’t disappoint.

The Blaugrana arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu two points ahead of Real at the top of La Liga. There was a tiny risk that the game may be abandoned with the rain crashing down, but a pitch inspection gave the all-clear.

The pre-match La Liga 2020 prediction here at SBOTOP pointed to a tight game, with Real Madrid marginal favourites at 2.25. And after Barca created the best chances in the first half, Los Blancos hit back with a vengeance in the second.

 

Highlights of the game

Vinicius Junior scored Real Madrid's opening goal during El Clasico match in La Liga
Vinicius Junior scored the opening goal during the El Clasico match in La Liga

Real have dropped points recently to hand the top spot back to the Blaugrana, and the hosts were determined to put that right in the early exchanges.

They won a corner on seven minutes, and when the ball was swung over it was half-cleared to top scorer Karim Benzema, but his lob cleared the crossbar.

And Los Blancos had another chance on 15 minutes when Vinicius reached the byline and pulled the ball back to Toni Kroos, but his shot flew too high.

For Barca, Antoine Griezmann is finding his feet at the Camp Nou and scored a vital Champions League goal away to Napoli last week. But the France striker wasted Barca’s best opening in the early stages.

A fast-flowing move gave him a good chance from the edge of the area, but with a clear sight of goal, he too blasted the ball over.

Real hit back with Benzema, who was inches away from getting on the end of a cross from Dani Carvajal. Kroos then had another chance but was also off-target.

Lionel Messi had been quiet, but the home fans had the jitters when Arturo Vidal ran through the middle and put him in, but Messi shot straight at Thibaut Courtois.

The Real keeper made a superb block from Arthur after he burst through. As the game went from end to end, Vinicius shot tamely at ter Stegen. Then, it was Courtois’ turn to make another fine save to deny Messi.

Barca had made the best La Liga 2020 highlights in the first half, but early in the second ter Stegen made a world-class save to deny Isco, whose brilliant effort was destined for the top corner. And then, Gerard Pique made a goal-line clearance to keep out a header from the Real midfielder.

Los Blancos were in the ascendancy; Benzema latched onto a lofted ball and volleyed just wide, and there were loud shouts for a penalty when Vinicius fell in the penalty area.

But he stayed on his feet moments later when Kroos put him through, and his shot from a tight angle was defected past ter Stegen by the unlucky Pique.

Messi had a chance to level on 75 minutes, but Raphael Varane raced back to make a brilliant last-ditch tackle. And as the Barca skipper upped the ante, Pique met his cross but glanced a header just wide.

Zinedine Zidane ran the clock down by bringing on Mariano for Benzema, and the sub did more than waste a few seconds. He bagged a late second with his first play of the match, outpacing Samuel Umtiti before sliding the ball past ter Stegen.

 

Key Statistics

The head to head between these two great rivals are level again at 96 each, and the celebrations will carry on in Madrid until the early hours.

It’s only the second time Los Blancos have won El Clasico in 11 meetings, while Barca have won five of the last seven.

Real Madrid are unbeaten at home in the league this season, having won nine and drawn four.

 

What’s Next?

Next up, Los Blancos have an away game to Real Betis before hosting Eibar. Then it’s back to the Champions League, where they have a 1-2 deficit to overturn against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. They’ll have to do that without skipper Sergio Ramos, who picked up his 26th red card in the first leg.

Meanwhile, the Blaugrana are at home to Real Sociedad, and that will be another tough test against a side with four wins in five and is well in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

They will then make the journey away to Real Mallorca before they return to the Camp Nou for their Champions League second leg tie against Napoli.

 

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