First El Clásico may just be the beginning for Barça, Real

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  • Real Madrid’s Pepe stops AS Roma’s Adem Ljajicin, right, in the Guinness International Champions Cup at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

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By Dan Escalona

Luis Suarez may have dominated the pre-match headlines, but Real Madrid stole the show in the latest edition of El Clásico.

In a match sprinkled with story lines, Real coasted in a 3-1 triumph over Barcelona. In what should be clearly seen as a statement made by Madrid, this match may have just been the opening chapter in a season that could be dominated by these two titans of Spanish and European soccer.

These two clubs have faced one another four times before in a European championship or in the Champions League — though never in the final. After what was witnessed on Saturday, though, a potential meeting between Barça and Real down the line for Europe’s premier soccer prize may simply be a matter of fate.

Though Madrid won by two goals and scored three goals on a defense that had previously conceded zero goals in eight games, Barcelona still had chances throughout the match. Barcelona generated 16 shots on goal, nine corners and won the possession battle 58 percent to 42 percent. Had the match been played at Camp Nou, the result could have easily been reversed.

Still, one must give credit to Madrid, as it made better use of the chances it was given. Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty kick, while Pepe and Karim Benzema pounced on opportunities created from two separate set pieces. Barça made mistakes and Madrid, as any elite team should, took full advantage.

For the most part, Madrid was in control of the match and gave Barcelona plenty of issues on the counterattack. Its defense, often considered a weakness, effectively stymied the Barcelona attack time and time again. Real was simply the better side on Saturday.

Barcelona had chances, even striking first in the opening minutes with a delightful Neymar finish on a assist from — who else — Luis Suarez. The infamous Uruguayan striker was, for the most part, effective in his debut notching assist and playing for 69 minutes. Most importantly, he kept his teeth to himself.

Whatever conclusions one may draw from a late-October match, albeit a big match for so early in the season, both clubs have already proven themselves as top teams in Europe.

Sure, it may be early, but these two clubs meeting up in the Champions League final is a distinct possibility.

That exact scenario very nearly occurred in 2013 as both made it to the semifinal stage of the UCL. An El Clásico final never came to fruition, as both were defeated by decidedly better squads in Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, respectively.

This year’s editions of Real and Barcelona, though, are much stronger sides than two seasons prior.

Most of this comes from the mere fact that both squads boast two of the more potent striker trios in recent memory. Not much can stop Leo Messi, Neymar and Suarez for Barça and Ronaldo, Benzema and Gareth Bale (who did not play against Barcelona) from putting up video game-level stats all season long.

Both sides are much more than simply a trio of phenomenal strikers. Real’s dynamic midfield of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez is incredibly solid and Barcelona’s midfield boasts wily veterans Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Despite the Madrid victory, both teams are incredibly well-matched.

The next El Clásico is not until March, and, who knows, they might just meet again in Berlin for the UCL final in May.

At this point, it may be up to Chelsea and Bayern to stop a Barcelona–Real Madrid showdown for the European championship.

Such an event would be to the chagrin of fans of the Premier League and Bundesliga, but, oh, what a final that would be.

Dan is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @danescalona77.