Veni, vidi, vici is a 46 BC Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar, who used it for a swift and emphatic victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus. Since then the phrase is being used for any such achievement in other social fields. The popular English translation of Caesar’s phrase is; “They came, they saw, they conquered”. This narration looked apt in Saturday’s El Clasico game, in which FC Barcelona arrived in Madrid, assessed their chances of playing without Lionel Messi for the first 57 minutes and finished with a resounding hammering of Real Madrid. Luis Suarez scored twice and Neymar and Iniesta shared a goal each in an emphatic 4-0 finish that looked like 7-0 and 8-0 at times. The totally overshadowed home team couldn’t rise to the occasion and a large congregation of Real Madrid supporters at Santiago Bernabeu was hugely disappointed. With that victory, the La Liga title race made a dramatic shift in favor of Barcelona, who stayed superior to Real from start to finish in the El Clasico duel. FCB now has a 6-point lead over Real Madrid in the points’ tally. Luis Suarez made the winning start in the 11th minute and when Lionel Messi made a field appearance after nearly three months, Barcelona had already opened a 3-0 lead. As if to welcome the football superstar, Suarez used a Messi assist in scoring again in the 74th minute to make the score 4-0.
In Saturday’s El Clasico, Barca played without Messi. The football superstar has been out of action since late September but he was expected to make an appearance for some time in the second half. But the grand encounter saw five of the most expensive footballers in game’s history. The combined worth of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriques, Luiz Suarez and Neymar at the time of their acquisition was 367 million British Pounds or 557 million US dollars. And mind you, we are not counting Messi, who has never been sold. But most certainly, the Argentinian is not playing for Barcelona for charitable reasons. Messi’s undisclosed income, however, is unknown to the world.
The big game started with a moment of remembrance for the victims of Paris terror attack and once the kick-off took place, Barcelona showed their intent. To fill Messi’s place in the forward line Coach Enrique drafted Sergi Roberto. The move paid rich dividends in the 11th minute. Sergi Roberto made a superb run in the midfield and after getting past Luka Modric, he crafted a perfectly timed cross for Luiz Suarez, who was in a great position. The Uruguayan didn’t waste a micro-second in slotting the ball into the bottom corner on the far post and Barcelona went 1-0 up. Real Madrid shrugged off their mid-field sluggishness after the early jolt and tried to keep the next 30 minutes’ play on an even keel. While Real brought the ball into the FCB box several times, the moves could not be fructified. On the other hand, Suarez and Neymar looked dangerous, whenever they had the ball possession. In one such instance in the 39th minute, Neymar received a ball from Iniesta, who ran wonderfully before ensuring that the Brazilian was not off-side. Neymar had all the time in the world and with literally to defender around, he coolly slotted the ball home as Barcelona took a well-deserved 2-0 lead. FCB could have made it 3-0 or 4-0 in the 44th and 45th minutes but the Neymar and Suarez were unfortunate. The halftime ended with FCB leading 2-0.
In the second half, Madrid looked charged up and made a few dangerous inroads on FCB goal but Claudio Bravo’s excellent work between poles denied them. After this brief surge by Real Madrid, Barca were back to work as usual and produced the third goal of the night in the 53rd minute. Neymar found Iniesta in a great position as the Brazilian sent the ball to him. In next to no time, the ball shook the net with Iniesta stylishly using an instant first-touch back-heel flick. Lionel Messi appeared 4 minutes after Barca had taken the 3-0 lead and began making a qualitative difference straightaway. Messi was responsible for Barca’s fourth goal as he sent a super ball to Suarez in the 74th minute. When the crafty Suarez saw Real goalkeeper charging up at him, he sent the ball over his head for its rollicking journey into the goal.
Nothing happened in the remaining time and Real Madrid players looked downcast. Their pitiful night was complete. No one could have conjured up Real’s thrashing in a home game against the arch-rivals. Barca had done it earlier in May 2009, when they had come to Santiago Bernabeu and defeated Real 6-2 but on Saturday, no goals came from the home stars. One certain off-shoot of the loss is packing of bags for Rafael Benitez as Madrid coach. He could well be pondering as to what to do next. With no future in football, Benitez may probably examine the possibility of taking up gardening or cookery classes!