El Clasico is back, and boy, are we in for a treat. Not only will Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo face each other once more, but the mouthwatering prospect of witnessing Neymar and Gareth Bale on the same turf is also a real possibility.
Using our incredibly scientific method of predicting the outcome, we fired up a copy of FIFA 14 and ran a simulation to determine the winner.
Will any of the new boys perform? Read on to find out.
FIFA 14 Match Report
Real Madrid kick off and immediately attack down the left flank. Marcelo bursts forward and plays the ball to Ronaldo, who stubs a tame shot towards Victor Valdes.
Madrid continue to maintain possession and box Barcelona into their half across the opening 10 minutes. Sami Khedira dinks a pace just beyond Isco, but Valdes scampers off his line to collect.
Barca finally head into Madrid’s box with a quarter of an hour on the clock. Gerardo Martino's side spray some fine passes around before Xavi cuts in from the right flank and finds Messi inside Madrid's area. The Argentinian is easily dispossessed.
Pedro follows this forward play by lashing a cross into the box, but it’s easily cleared.
Asier Illarramendi thrusts a quick through ball up to Ronaldo. The Portuguese star's tussle with Dani Alves wins the away side a corner, but Pepe’s header doesn't trouble Valdes.
Carlo Ancelotti's men suffer a setback after 25 minutes, as Alvaro Arbeloa hits the deck in pain after clashing with Messi in the air. The Real Madrid defender lands awkwardly and is forced off with an ankle injury.
Dani Carvajal on for Arbeloa, 25 mins.
Diego Lopez sprays a goal kick upfield after receiving possession from the drop ball. Bale latches onto his punt and plays a one-two with Karim Benzema before firing a shot at Valdes' goal. Gerard Pique blocks the effort and Madrid receive a corner.
Valdes easily collects, but he powers the ball straight into Los Blancos' midfield with a poor goal kick. A fantastic passing move is started by Illarramendi, who continues to dictate alongside Khedira in the middle.
Illarramendi pushes the ball towards to Benzema, who plays it back to Ronaldo on the halfway line. CR7 lofts a fantastic pass across the pitch to Bale, who controls expertly and smashes at Valdes from the edge of the box.
The Barca keeper parries the ball away and is helpless as Benzema outjumps Dani Alves for the rebound. The Frenchman hits the post, but with Valdes on the floor, Isco sneaks in to make it 1-0.
Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid, Isco, 30 mins.
Messi progresses up the pitch from kick-off but is halted by Carvajal. Possession eventually falls to Neymar, who tries to drop a pass into the middle of Madrid’s area, but Pepe’s acrobatic clearance sees danger disappear.
Madrid continue to pass the ball with real speed as Bale once again becomes an important figure. He steps away from Adriano and sends a pacey pass to Benzema, who sees the ball bounce off his heel.
Benzema shoulders Mascherano out of the way and passes back to Bale, whose shot from the edge of the box is deflected by the Argentinian for a corner. Pique clears the resulting kick.
Seconds later, Isco finds room on the edge of the box, but Mascherano blocks his shot and Valdes collects.
Halftime Score: Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid.
Key Stat: Barcelona have yet to register a shot. Madrid have had seven out of seven attempts on target and 55 percent possession.
Sergio Busquets heads forward straight after the break and is quickly closed down. His panicked chip through to Pedro results in an offside call. Madrid counter and Benzema’s cross is headed out to Illarramendi, whose tame effort goes wide.
Luka Modric on for Illarramendi, 53 mins.
Davi Alves attacks down the right for the first time and exchanges a handful of short passes with Xavi. Alves finds Neymar in space, who plays a smart through ball to Messi. Unfortunately, Leo’s quick turn and shot is easily held by Lopez. Barca have their first shot of the game.
The hosts finally gain control and begin to ping the ball around with vigour. Neymar finds Busquets on the edge of the area. He then returns possession to the Brazilian with a fine pass into the box. He takes one touch before shooting, but the monstrous Pepe dives in front of his attempt.
Barcelona camp inside Madrid’s half, the complete opposite of what happened in the first half. After stringing many short passes together, Adriano’s wild effort sails uselessly wide.
Angel Di Maria on for Bale, 67 mins.
Madrid quickly counter once more, and Ronaldo’s footwork leaves the home defence for dead. The Portuguese star bursts toward Valdes’ goal. His pace and power comes into full effect as he muscles away from incoming challenges and eventually manages to hit the target from a tight angle.
Cesc Fabregas for Andres Iniesta, Alex Song for Busquets, 69 mins.
Ancelotti's team continue to pressure. Di Maria breaks into the box before the winger loses control and Barca clear.
Seconds later, Madrid latch onto possession and send the Argentinian sprinting forward once more. He finds Ronaldo on the opposite wing, who plays a simple ball into Khedira. The German is unmarked just inside the area, but his left-footed shot bounces off Valdes’ legs and is cleared by Song.
Di Maria’s introduction injects life into Madrid, who begin to replicate their smart passing moves from the opening 45 minutes.
Once Barcelona break possession down, there's a major scramble in the Madrid box as Messi’s pinpoint cross causes havoc.
Alexis Sanchez for Adriano, 81 mins.
With five minutes to go, the mini-maestro's tame shot is once again blocked by Pepe. Barcelona pile forward in a bid to notch a late goal and maintain possession around Madrid's area.
The away side's defence holds firm until Ronaldo forces Pedro over with a sneaky knock. Amazingly, this produces the first yellow card deep into stoppage time.
Lopez claims the resulting free kick and smashes the ball away just as the final whistle sounds. Boos ring around Camp Nou as Real Madrid escape with a vital win.
Final Score: Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid
|Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: FIFA 14 Player Ratings|
|Barcelona Starting XI||Rating||Real Madrid Starting XI||Rating|
|Victor Valdes||7.3||Diego Lopez||7.5|
|Javier Mascherano||6.7||Sergio Ramos||6.5|
|Gerard Pique||5.7||Pepe||7.6 (MOTM)|
|Dani Alves||6.4||Alvaro Arbeloa||6.1|
|Andres Iniesta||7.2||Sami Khedira||6.9|
|Sergio Busquets||6.4||Cristiano Ronaldo||6.5|
|Lionel Messi||6.3||Gareth Bale||7.2|
|Cesc Fabregas||5.7||Dani Carvajal||6.9|
|Alex Song||6.7||Luka Modric||6.3|
|Alexis Sanchez||N/A||Angel Di Maria||6.2|
Here's a look at the key statistics from the match. Considering Barcelona's affinity for having greater possession, Tata Martino's followers would react terribly if Madrid racked up the same percentage in real life.
|3||Shots on Target||8|
|49 percent||Possession||51 percent|
So, with the Neymar vs. Bale battle disappointing, it's another new star who takes the plaudits. Isco's solitary goal came from a moment of opportunism that provided the away side with something to defend.
Although Bale played well, certainly better than Neymar, he wasn't quite able to influence the game in a telling manner. Valdes performed admirably. For Neymar, this was something of a quiet game.
Carlo Ancelotti leaves his first Clasico with all three points, but will Madrid be able to replicate this result in reality? Let us know your verdict in the comments section below.