MADRID: Barcelona’s losing run against Real Madrid finally ended on Sunday as the Catalans enjoyed a stunning 4-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, a humiliation of their fiercest rivals suggesting they are primed to challenge again for La Liga next season.
Barca kept their recent momentum going under coach Xavi Hernandez in the last Clasico of the season. The win ended Barcelona’s five-match losing streak to their rivals and maintained an outside chance of fighting for the title after a difficult start to their first season without Lionel Messi.
The victory was their first against Real since 2019 and came in style like a few others Barca enjoyed with Messi in his prime.
It was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who thrived this time, scoring twice to continue his great streak since being signed in the final minutes of the winter transfer window. Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres added a goal each to give Barcelona their seventh win in the last eight matches in all competitions.
“Of course we didn’t expect this scoreline, but we did everything we intended to do from the start,” Barca captain Sergio Busquets said.
With Real sitting comfortably on top of the standings with 66 points, the Clasico was never likely to determine the fate of LaLiga’s title race.
But pride was on the line and Xavi’s much improved Barca showed that their recent return to form was genuine.
After their fifth consecutive league win, Barca are third in the standings on 54 points with a game in hand, three points behind second-placed Sevilla, who were held to a goalless draw by Real Sociedad.
Questions will be asked about Carlo Ancelotti’s future, with Real, who badly missed the injured Karim Benzema, outplayed tactically and technically by Barca, who were faster, slicker and, perhaps most worryingly, could easily have won by more.
“We played badly and I planned the game badly,” said Ancelotti. “I am sorry for the defeat and I am sad. But we have to keep it in perspective.”
With Ousmane Dembele and Torres exposing Real’s defensive frailty on the flanks, Barca opened the scoring in the 29th minute with an Aubameyang header from a Dembele cross.
Barca kept up the tempo against a disorganised and lifeless Real and extended their lead when defender Araujo headed in from a Dembele corner.
Ancelotti tried to change the dynamic, making two substitutions during the break but Barca scored in the first minute of the second half with an angled shot from Torres after a backheel by Aubameyang.
Five minutes later, former Manchester City forward Torres returned the favour, teeing up Aubameyang for his second goal.
Barca had several opportunities to extend their lead, but Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois avoided any further humiliation.
Fifth-placed Real Betis missed a chance to gain some ground after being held to a 0-0 draw at Celta Vigo. Manual Pellegrini’s team stayed four points behind Barca and fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, and two points ahead of Sociedad.
Villarreal stayed three points behind Betis after a 1-0 loss at Cadiz, who are just outside the relegation zone. Mallorca stayed a point behind Cadiz after losing 1-0 at Espanyol for their sixth consecutive defeat.