Lionel Messi’s goal in the 18th minute tied the record of goals scored by any player in El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Alfredo Di Stefano, who held the record until today, scored his 18th and final Clásico goal on December 15, 1963, playing for Real Madrid.
Messi’s goal was his 50th club goal this season in all competitions and his 39th league goal. Additionally, he stretched to 16 his streak of consecutive league games with at least one goal. Last year was a record-breaking year for Messi, who at this point had 43 season goals in all competitions with Barcelona.
Despite having seven lineup changes in comparison to the squad that outplayed and beat Barça 3-1 at Camp Nou on Tuesday, Real Madrid came out decisively aggressive and was able to pull ahead early in the first half. Karim Benzema was able to capitalize on an Alvaro Morata cross to score his 13th club goal this season. Even though Barcelona out-passed Real Madrid on the first half (454-103), the home team was able to create more chances (3-1).
Among the most important absences for the home team in the starting lineup was Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the Portuguese, who came in at the 57th minute, had an immediate impact on the game. Instantly upon his stepping on the pitch, he drew a dangerous foul at the edge of Victor Valdés’ area after beating Pique one on one. Within his first 20 minutes in the game, he had three shots, more than anyone else in the game up until the 80th minute.
Ronaldo ended the game with 6 shot attempts (hit crossbar in one of them); two more than the entire Barcelona team. Sergio Ramos’ winning goal was his third Clásico goal. Out of his past 10 league goals, eight of them were headers. In the end, in the second half, Real Madrid was able to outplay and beat Barcelona once again. In the second half alone, Real Madrid had four chances and Barcelona had only one.
Despite Madrid’s dominant performances, ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) has Barcelona winning the league with a 99.79% chance. However, Real Madrid’s renovated confidence will surely make an impact in the Champions League tie against Manchester United on Tuesday.