The buildup to the El Clasico has always been electrifying – with the old guards giving away the torch to the next generation – the attraction took a setback, but an El Clasico is always an El Clasico and Camp Nou was prepared to host their bitter rivals in the afternoon. Guess what, Real Madrid conquered Camp Nou again and proved themselves as the kings of El Clasicos.

The game lacked pace and intensity, which is always evident in such a high-voltage clash. Both the teams cashed in a cautious start and focused on their backline. The midfield was busy blocking the gaps rather than orchestrating attacks while the frontliners lacked efficiency.

Ronald Koeman had a surprising inclusion in his starting XI, with Oscar Mingueza slotted in at right-back, while Sergino Dest was pushed forward as a right-winger.

Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti went with an attack-minded line-up, consisting of Lucas Vazquez at right-back, Ferland Mendy at left-back and Rodrygo Goes joining fellow Brazilian Vinicius Junior up top with Karim Benzema.

The opening 10 minutes have been cagey, to say the least. Both sets of players are playing it safe when in possession and three minutes later, Vinicius latched on to a ball over the top by Mendy and surged into the left-inside channel and went for a cutback towards Benzema, but Garcia was there to deflect it behind for a corner – the Los Blancos broke the shackles and hinted, they were at Camp Nou for a win.

Vinicius went down in the box under pressure from Mingueza and appealed for a penalty. The referee was not interested and told the forward to get to his feet.

The referee had to calm tempers after Alba reacted to Vinicius’ appeal for a spot-kick. There was not a great deal in contact between Mingueza and Vinicius, prompting the reaction from the home side.

Benzema threaded Vinicius through on goal and he burst into the left-inside channel. He rounded Ter Stegen to open up space to fire at goal on his left foot but then opted to go back onto his right foot. Alba got back to block his eventual strike, although the offside flag went up late.

Barca responded with Sergino Dest – The USA international blazed a golden opportunity over the bar from 12 yards out. Memphis Depay made a lung-bursting run into the Madrid box and cut a low ball back across the penalty area. Fati edged it into the path of Dest, who only had to beat Courtois. However, he lost his composure and skied his effort.

Madrid were having trouble keeping themselves onside in the final third.

Benzema is caught straying as he latched onto an offload from Rodrygo before blasting his eventual strike from the right-inside channel into the side-netting.

Fati tried to find Depay in space on the edge of the box, but the Dutchman failed to bring his offload under control amid pressure from Alaba – a counter-attack was on offer.

The Los Blancos scored the perfect counterattacking goal with Alaba providing a sublime finish on his left foot.

Alaba started the move by dispossessing Depay on the edge of the Madrid box before breaking up the field. Rodrygo took possession and cut open the Barca defence with an incisive pass towards Alaba in the left-inside channel.

He took a touch before rifling his strike into the top-right corner.

It was the first goal for Real Madrid and what a moment and venue he chose to celebrate his goal – El Clasico and Camp Nou!

Alaba was not done yet – at the stroke of halftime.

Alaba produced a huge block at the back to deny Fati. Busquets clipped a ball over the top for Alba to chase in the left-inside channel. He cut a low cross back towards Fati, who shot with power towards goal, but the presence of the Austrian legend blocked the effort in its track.

Philippe Coutinho was summoned during the break for Mingueza, meaning Dest dropped back to his usual right-back spot, as Barcelona remained on the front foot in their search for an equaliser.

However, as the second stanza wore on, Real Madrid started to impose themselves and, if not for a last-gasp intervention from Dest and then a save from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, both Vinicius and Benzema likely would have had goals.

Barca built down the left flank through Fati. He tried to offload towards Coutinho in the box, but the Brazilian saw his left-footed strike diverted behind by Militao.

Alba had space down the left flank and cut the ball back for Fati to strike, but his attempt was saved by Courtois down to his right.

The defensive change for Real Madrid signalled Ancelotti’s comfort with using his defence to see things out, with an eye toward getting a second via the counterattack.

Modric hooked an offload inside for Benzema, who had his first real opening at the goal of the game.

However, Benzema scuffed his strike from 12 yards into the ground and Ter Stegen made the block with his body.

It was a huge chance for Los Blancos to take command of the game.

Vinicius bursts into space down the left flank and had Benzema in the box in support, but he failed to beat Ter Stegen with his cross to the near post.

Koeman’s final roll of the dice was youngster Gavi off for Luuk de Jong, while Marco Asensio gave Real Madrid fresh legs in place of a limping Vinicius and Dani Carvajal replaced Fede Valverde.

Ancelotti’s approach worked to a tee as a Barcelona attack bereft of ideas in the second half couldn’t land the leveller and a stoppage-time counter saw Lucas Vazquez put the nail in the coffin for a 2-0 lead.

A last-gasp goal from Aguero made sure Real Madrid couldn’t keep a clean sheet, but the spoils were all for the visitors as they claimed a 2-1 win – their fourth Clasico victory in a row.

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Barcelona, meanwhile, are down in eighth and could end the weekend in ninth if Real Betis beat Rayo Vallecano.

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