Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona, May 2, 2009
Throughout the storied history of Clasico matches, the number five is symbolic. There’s a host of occasions when one of the sides has scored an quintuple of goals—a manita—in a show of resounding dominance against the other. So you can imagine how significant it was when in 2009, Barcelona scored six times at the Santiago Bernabeu.
While this Real Madrid team weren’t quite at their highest ebb during this spell, they were a very capable side and coming into the clash with their rivals at the Bernabeu they were in exceptional form. A win for the capital club would have cut the gap down to just one point at the top of the table with four games remaining and with Barcelona still negotiating the latter stages of the Champions League.
They were on a fabulous run too, having gone 18 games unbeaten in domestic matches, winning 17 of them. The last side to have beaten this Real team in the league was Barcelona and they ended Madrid’s unbeaten run in emphatic circumstances here.
Pep Guardiola’s team had slowly been taking shape during his maiden campaign as manager. They played with an incomparable intensity off the ball, a swagger on it and in Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, they boasted an attacking triumvirate that had a vast array of qualities.
It all came together in magnificent fashion on that May evening six years ago, though. Barcelona walked into a cauldron of noise at the Bernabeu, with the Madridistas still hopeful of launching a late title charge. They began on the front foot as well, as Gonzalo Higuain put Real in front 14 minutes into the clash.
The Bernabeu responded, but Barca were unflustered as they continued to go about their business with a patented panache. Sergio Ramos had a torrid evening at right-back trying to deal with Henry and when Messi threaded a pass between the defender and into the path of the Frenchman, he finished cooly into the corner in trademark fashion.
Before the 20-minute mark, Barcelona found themselves ahead, as talismanic skipper Carles Puyol powered a header beyond Iker Casillas from a Xavi set-piece. Things got even worse for the home side before the break, as Xavi—instrumental throughout—robbed Lassana Diarra before playing in Messi, who made no mistake to put the Blaugrana 3-1 up.
Ramos gave Real some brief hope with a header early in the second half, but it was only a temporary reprieve from an avalanche of Barcelona pressure. Henry raced away from the Los Blancos defense with ease not long after to put the Blaugrana two goals in front again and from that point on, there was no way back for the Madrid club.
SEE ALSO: Where to find el Clasico on US TV and Internet; Sunday kickoff at 4pm ET
Messi placed a fifth past Casillas with the clock winding down and after breaking up a Madrid attack and surging forward, Pique made it six from a tight angle following more good work from the genial Argentine. Barcelona were rampant, Real were obliterated.
The win paved the way for a phenomenal end to the season for the Catalonians. Guardiola steered the Blaugrana to glory in the league on the back of that hammering at the Bernabeu, but there was more to come. They lifted the Copa del Rey after a 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, before going on to beat Manchester United in the final of the Champions League too.
It was the start of what many believe to be the formation of greatest side ever assembled. Guardiola’s men went on to lift two further league titles, another Copa and another European Cup during his distinguished tenure, with Messi going on to establish himself as the world’s finest player.
But it was that hammering of their rivals at the Bernabeu that offered the first indications into what this team could potentially achieve. From a Barcelona perspective, there was no better place to lay down a marker.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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