Football

Five Lessons From El Clasico

1. REAL DIDN'T MISS GARETH BALE

A muscle injury robbed Bale of taking part in the biggest match of Real Madrid's season to date, but they haven't missed him while firing six goals past Barcelona and Liverpool.

Bale's absence allowed coach Carlo Ancelotti to use the 4-4-2 system that guided Los Blancos to victory over Barca in the Copa del Rey final in April, with Isco's work-rate and guile in midfield more than compensating for the lack of Bale's pace on the counter-attack.

2. A BIG NIGHT FOR IKER CASILLAS

Casillas has come under fire to justify his place in the team from the Real fans. However, he rewarded Ancelotti's faith in him with two fine stops at crucial points in the match.

He spread himself to deny Lionel Messi before flying to his right to prevent Jeremy Mathieu a stunning equaliser just after Real had gone in front.

3. MORE TO COME FROM LUIS SUAREZ

The Uruguayan started his first competitive match in four months since biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup and made an instant impact, as he teed up Neymar for the opening goal.

There were a few more flashes of brilliance, as Messi should have tucked away another fine cross to make it 2-0, while Suarez turned the Real defence on numerous occasions after the break without finding the final finish or pass.

4. NEYMAR'S LETHAL, 
MESSI WASN'T

Neymar registered his 11th goal this season in as many games with his only clear chance in the match, as he ghosted inside Dani Carvajal and Pepe to slot into the far corner.

And the result might have been very different had Messi been more precise with his big opportunity, as Casillas spread himself well to prevent the Argentinian doubling Barca's lead and becoming the joint top La Liga scorer of all time.

5. SAME OLD DEFENSIVE WOES FOR BARCA

The game was decided by two goals in the second half which came from corners, as Barca continued to suffer from the defensive problems that dogged their trophyless campaign last season.

Pepe powered Real in front as, just as in their only previous defeat this season away to Paris Saint-Germain, the Catalan side were caught napping at a set-piece.

Then, in their haste to equalise, Barca were caught on the counter-attack from a corner of their own as a mix-up between Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano prompted a lightning-quick move finished off by Karim Benzema. - AFP.