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Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: What Clasico Win Means for Catalans Going Forward

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Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: What Clasico Win Means for Catalans Going Forward
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Who needs the world's most expensive player when you've got Neymar?

One of the many storylines before the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid involved the head-to-head battle between Neymar and Gareth Bale. Both were the marquee signings for their respective clubs, with Bale carrying the highest price tag of any transfer ever.

As Barca got a 2-1 victory in the first Clasico of the season, there was only one clear victor: Neymar. The Brazilian star got the first goal of the match and is credited with an assist for Alexis Sanchez's eventual winner.

Neymar's performance was a great sign for Barcelona going forward. There was some questioning as to whether he was the player the club really needed to sign, or if the money would have been better spent shoring up the back line.

Instead, the 21-year-old has been sensational since making the move and hasn't had any problems sharing, even ceding the spotlight to Lionel Messi.

Neymar's continued run of form was just one of the positives Barcelona can take out of this match and use as they look forward to the rest of the season. These three factors should also be taken into account for Barcelona after El Clasico.

 

Taking Pressure off League Campaign to Focus on Europe

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Barcelona are now six points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table. While it's not quite an unassailable lead, it's actually closer than you might think to reaching that status.

Here's the amount of points each La Liga winner has had for the past five seasons: 87, 99, 96, 100 and 100. Both Madrid and Barca have made it a habit of dropping few results while racking up enormous point totals by the end of the season.

When the title-winning club takes 100 out of a possible 114 points two years in a row, the margin for error is minute.

But having this six-point lead allows Barcelona to take some of the pressure off when it comes to their performances. The players don't have to approach the match like it's the Champions League final.

While this isn't an excuse for the players to take their foot off the gas and fall asleep against a club like Celta Vigo or Real Betis, they at least know they don't have to be absolutely perfect for the rest of the season. They've got that little bit of cushion.

That will be huge when the European fixtures start coming in fast and piling up with the Copa del Rey and league matches.

With that six-point gap, Gerardo Martino might also be able to rest some of his important players and save them for down the road. He wouldn't repeat the same mistakes Tito Vilanova and Jordi Roura did when they played the same guys over and over again, only to see a fatigued Barcelona hammered by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final.

 

Gerardo Martino Starts off Strong

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As a new manager, you always want to win that first match against your biggest rival. It helps to set the tone for the rest of the season and send the message to the supporters that you can handle the job.

Although some might have questioned the hiring of Martino before the season, he's done everything right up to this point to firmly establish himself as the man at Barcelona.

Now he's got that first Clasico under his belt, and more importantly, that first victory, in turn building that faith in him among the club's officials and supporters.

Plus, Martino doesn't have a bunch of fans and journalists asking him a bunch of questions and criticizing his decisions, as he would have had Barca lost the match.

Look over at the other sideline at Carlo Ancelotti, who was also managing his first Clasico. The Italian has to deal with plenty of people asking why he started Sergio Ramos in midfield and Gareth Bale at centre-forward.

Meanwhile, Martino can sit back and watch it all possibly unravel at Madrid.

 

Could This Be a Turning Point for Alexis Sanchez?

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Alexis Sanchez is without a doubt a talented footballer. However, since moving to Barcelona from Udinese in 2011, he hasn't quite lived up to the hype, failing to put in the kind of consistent performances you'd expect out of somebody with his ability.

Alexis would show some flashes, but then he'd disappear for a few matches, only to reappear again with a bit of magic.

It has to be frustrating for supporters to watch a player with so much potential often be his own worst enemy on the pitch.

But that goal he scored on Saturday, was it ever beautiful. If you've never once watched Alexis play, you'd only need to watch that goal to understand that he's very good at football.

He's earning plenty of deserved plaudits after chipping that shot over an outstretched Diego Lopez.

The hope now is that he'll be able to find that consistency that has so far eluded him for most of his Barca career. Maybe he can become the player the club envisioned. Alexis is still only 24 years old. He's just now beginning to hit those peak years.

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