Barcelona not only won the first Clasico of La Liga's season, it may have effectively ruled defending champion Real Madrid out of the title race.
Barcelona is threatening to run away Spain, as it now sits 14 points clear of fourth-place Real Madrid (which has a game in hand) after a 3-0 win at the Bernabeu on Saturday, with Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal getting on the scoresheet. Making matters better for Barcelona, second-place Atletico Madrid lost for the first time on Friday, meaning that the undefeated Catalan power will have at least an eight-point lead by the end of the week, while putting Real Madrid effectively to the sword with five months to go in the season.
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid, fresh off another Club World Cup title, instead finds itself in an uncharacteristic fight for a top-four place while perhaps shifting the entirety of its focus to the Champions League, where it must face mighty PSG in the round of 16.
Real Madrid was seeking a quick start and nearly got it through Cristiano Ronaldo in the second minute. He was unmarked for a second header by the far post off a corner kick, but he was well offside before receiving the ball, with his opportunity off the underside of the crossbar disallowed.
Ronaldo had another golden opportunity in the 11th minute, with a cutback pass from Toni Kroos on the left finding Ronaldo at almost the same spot where Messi won El Clasico at the Bernabeu in April. The Portuguese star whiffed on his opportunity, though, and Dani Carvajal couldn't turn the inadvertent dummy on frame, under pressure from a recovering Andres Iniesta.
Real Madrid continued to apply the pressure, but perhaps it was Ronaldo putting too much pressure on himself, as he opted to fire away into traffic from the left channel instead of finding a wide-open Luka Modric in the box. The Croatian star, who was calling for the pass, showed his frustration after Ronaldo's shot was easily blocked in the 21st minute.
Barcelona's first true chance came in the 30th minute. Messi lifted it forward for Paulinho with a pinpoint pass, but the Brazilian's agile volley off the bounce was tipped out by goalkeeper Keylor Navas for a corner kick.
Ronaldo nearly struck on the ensuing foray forward, with the Real Madrid star stepping over and torturing his mark before sending a bouncing chance on frame that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen tipped around the post for a corner with a kick save.
Navas denied Paulinho again in the 39th minute on another chance set up by Messi. His header off the near-post run was set to tuck inside, but the Costa Rican international pushed it around the post with a diving save to keep it 0-0.
Real Madrid had its next gilt-edged chance in the 43rd minute, with Marcelo picking out Karim Benzema on a perfect cross from the left. The Frenchman's header off his near-post run glanced off the outside of the far post, missing by inches.
The best chance after the halftime break came through Luis Suarez, with a relatively weak attempt being saved by Navas after a gorgeous bit of build-up sparked by Iniesta and Jordi Alba, whose cutback pass found the Uruguayan for his chance.
Suarez didn't make a mistake his next time, though. Sergio Busquets started the sequence in his own half before playing it forward to Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian sprayed it right for Sergi Roberto, who crossed to an open Suarez at point-blank range. The goal opened the scoring in the 54th minute.
Barcelona extended its lead on an insane sequence just after the hour mark. It ended with Dani Carvajal purposely handling the ball to prevent a Barcelona goal and promptly being sent off. Messi converted on the ensuing penalty kick for his 25th career Clasico goal, making it 2-0–with Barcelona handed a man advantage as well.
Real Madrid nearly pulled a goal back in the 78th minute through substitute Gareth Bale, but ter Stegen was equal to the task, saving the point-blank opportunity to keep it 2-0.
Aleix Vidal came off the bench to put the final nail in Real Madrid's coffin, scoring off a feed from Messi in stoppage time to make it 3-0.