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Luis Suárez hits hat-trick as Barcelona demolish insipid Real Madrid

Luis Suárez hits hat-trick as Barcelona demolish insipid Real Madrid
At half-time in the clásico, Luis Suárez walked off with a heavy-legged, frustrated stride, head in his hands, muttering to himself, annoyed that he had wasted the opportunity to end this game – and, quite possibly, Julen Lopetegui’s time in charge of Real Madrid. At full-time, Suárez walked off holding the match ball, scorer of a wonderful hat-trick in a match that may well be Lopetegui’s last, the Guardian reported.
Real Madrid’s manager insisted that he has the “strength” to carry on, and vowed that Madrid will improve, insisting, “this team has a future, I am sure of that” but he must be aware how weak his position is now. The Bernabéu board, already convinced that a change of coach was necessary, did not see anything to alter that view here.
“I’m sad, it’s a tough blow, but I have strength to continue and the belief that things will improve,” Lopetegui said, but few at the club agree and he knows that. “We know how the world of football works; I’m the coach and the coach holds ultimate responsibility although there are other factors,” he said.
Lopetegui felt his team had deserved more and for a moment, it is true, it appeared that Madrid might react, their managed resuscitated and perhaps even rescued, but ultimately they were ripped apart. When Arturo Vidal headed in, it was Barcelona’s fifth. These are not the kind of results from which Madrid managers return, still less in the recent context: Madrid have now won just once in six games – and if this is to be the end for Lopetegui, it was a painful one, leaving his team in ninth place, seven points behind their greatest rivals.
Nor was it just the scoreline; it was the sensations too. In the first 45 minutes here, Madrid didn’t exist: they were, put bluntly, awful. Simply not there. And while they did react in the second half, while they made a game of this, it was insufficient. In the final minutes, they were beaten and broken, in pieces and at risk of conceding even more.
And all that was without Lionel Messi, which rather undermined Lopetegui’s laments about injury. The Argentinian watched from the stands as Suárez took centre stage. There was a superb performance too from Jordi Alba. And while Lopetegui’s position is ever more precarious, Ernesto Valverde emerged enhanced, his changes making a huge difference: Ousmane Dembélé, Vidal and Sergi Roberto, moved into midfield, were the ones who closed this game out amidst the delighted din.


Barcelona took the lead in the 11th minute, 30 passes completed before Ivan Rakitic delivered the ball that broke through, a long diagonal over Nacho to Alba. He raced forward and as Suárez ran into the six-yard box, Madrid’s players going with him, Alba pulled back for Philippe Coutinho to finish from by the penalty spot. The Camp Nou erupted; Madrid barely moved. Coutinho had a shot blocked and Arthur Melo drew a sharp save from Thibaut Courtois, but it wasn’t the chances that defined this. What did was an overwhelming sense of superiority.

It felt almost as if Barcelona could have ended it sooner had they sought to accelerate. The ball was theirs and theirs alone, Rakitic, Arthur and Sergio Busquets exercising control, Alba leaving Nacho exposed and vulnerable. From Madrid, there was no reaction, no resistance, and soon the lead was doubled, Suárez brought down by Raphaël Varane and scoring the penalty himself.
The second half saw a Madrid fightback, even if it was to prove short-lived. Lopetegui shifted to three at the back and the response was swift, Marcelo halving the deficit five minutes later, seemingly setting up a whole new game. “We had chances to have equalised or led,” Lopetegui said. Sergio Ramos dived to head over, Luka Modric struck the post and Karim Benzema should have scored with a header from nine yards. Barcelona though saw out the storm and in Suárez they had an outlet unlike any other. They also made changes which worked perfectly.
Dembélé was sent on by Valverde, and almost straight away was running at defenders. He spread it wide to Sergi Roberto, moved into midfield when Semedo was introduced, who clipped in a cross. Suárez’s neck strained and his header, full of intent, flew powerfully into the net beyond Courtois. Soon Sergi Roberto battled with Ramos and released Suárez again, ready to dink the ball wonderfully over Courtois. Madrid were finished but the game was not just yet, Dembélé wriggling clear andcrossing for Vidal to score.
“Whoever doesn’t bounce is a Madridista!” the stadium chanted and all around they bounced. Lopetegui just watched, lost and long gone.
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