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Barcelona took a huge step towards retaining their La Liga title by moving six points clear at the top with a 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid on Saturday. Look at what can be learned from a bleak evening for Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.
Five conclusions from Barca's thrashing of Madrid
11/22/2015
 

Barcelona took a huge step towards retaining their La Liga title by moving six points clear at the top with a 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid on Saturday.


Here, AFP Sports looks at what can be learned from a bleak evening for Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.


Who needs Messi?


Arguably the most remarkable part of an utterly dominant display from Barca was the fact most of the damage was inflicted without Lionel Messi on the field.


The four-time World Player of the Year made his return from a two-month injury layoff with the visitors already 3-0 up.


Once again it was Luis Suarez and Neymar who shone in Messi's absence as Suarez opened and rounded off the scoring, whilst Neymar added Barca's second and set up two more in the second-half.


Benitez on the brink?


Despite having lost just twice in 16 games in charge, a defeat of this magnitude could spell the end for Benitez.


The Madrid fans called for President Florentino Perez's resignation as their humiliation unfolded, but that is only more likely to see the top man at the club turn on Benitez.


Moreover, with a club legend like Zinedine Zidane coaching Madrid's reserve team, Perez wouldn't have to look far for a popular replacement.


Iniesta brings Bernabeu to its feet


Neymar and Suarez had scored Barca's previous 19 La Liga goals before Andres Iniesta rifled his side's third into the top corner to end any hopes of a Madrid revival in the second-half.


Another magisterial display from the Spanish international reaped the applause it deserved when he was replaced late on, even from the frustrated Madrid fans in scenes similar to the famous reception given to Ronaldinho after his two incredible goals in a 3-0 Barca win at the Bernabeu 10 years ago.


Bale posted missing again

In his 100th game in a Madrid shirt, this was a glorious chance for Gareth Bale to dispel the mounting critics of his impotent displays in a Real shirt for the past 18 months.


Yet, despite playing in his favoured role behind the striker, Bale had no impact on the game whatsoever and the time may be coming when Madrid decide to cut their losses on the Welshman with a series of Premier League clubs said to be interested.


Is Sergi Roberto La Masia's newest star?

Whilst Madrid started with 10 foreigners for the first time in a Clasico, Barca remained true to their traditions with five graduates from their La Masia academy in the starting line-up.


One of those five, Sergi Roberto, was rewarded for his fine form this season with a start in the position on the right side of the attack usually occupied by Messi.


And he was Messi-like in setting up the opening goal as he drove at the Madrid defence before timing a perfect pass into the path of Suarez.

Source: AFP/ Kieran Canning
 
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