Barcelona and Real Madrid in superb form ahead of El Clásico

Real Madrid ran out 3-0 winners away to Sporting de Gijón, while Barcelona put five past Levante at Camp Nou

el clasico
Guardiola's men travel to Madrid next Saturday Photo: The Sport Review / Soccer.ru

el clasico

Barcelona and Real Madrid were in supreme form this weekend as they enjoyed comfortable victories in La Liga ahead of next Saturday’s El Clásico at the Bernabéu.

Ángel Di María starred for Real Madrid, who were without influential midfielder Xabi Alonso, as Los Blancos strolled to a 3-0 victory over Sporting de Gijón on Saturday.

Di María scored the visitors’ first in the 34th minute after taking advantage of a blunder by defender Damian Suárez.

Sporting were one of only three teams in the league which Cristiano Ronaldo had failed to score against since moving from Manchester United in 2009 and the Portuguese finally opened his account against Rojiblancos this weekend.

Di María’s perfect pass found Ronaldo for the forward to net his 17th goal of the season in the 64th minute.

And with Sporting down to 10 men following the dismissal of Sebastian Eguren, Marcelo sealed the win in the 90th minute to keep Real three points ahead of Barcelona at the top of the league.

After the match Real manager José Mourinho praised Di María’s superb performance.

“When Di Maria came to Spain, no one knew why he signed for Real Madrid,” Mourinho said.

“He played for Benfica in the Champions League but did not stand out, while he didn’t have a very good World Cup, but I knew he could offer traits that I like.

“He is humble, always evolving and believes the team is above everything else. I like his simplistic approach and character.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona crushed a weakened Levante 5-0 at Camp Nou in Saturday’s late kick-off as Pep Guardiola’s side dispelled any doubts over their title credentials that had arisen over the past weeks.

Cesc Fábregas was instrumental for the defending champions and the former Arsenal captain struck twice in the first half to end a five-game streak without a goal.

Issac Cuenca added a third just before the interval, with Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez completing the rout with two precise finishes past Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa.

“We’ve scored five goals against the fourth placed team in the League, but it’s true that after everything we’ve accomplished nothing we do seems like much,” said Guardiola.

“There isn’t a game where I do not come to any conclusions, it’s impossible not to. The fact that we did well tonight doesn’t mean we’ll do well tomorrow, because Madrid plays differently.”

“It’s very difficult, not only against Madrid but against any other club in the world.”

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