There is a reason why the clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona is called El Clasico.
Not only does the game feature two of the behemoths of world football, two clubs that stand clear and tall of almost every team on the planet, but the rivalry of Spain's super-clubs produces some spectacular football and lasting memories.
Sunday night saw yet another such derby match, as Barca shocked the watching millions by overcoming the Galacticos 4-3 on Madrid soil.
Lionel Messi gave a virtuoso performance, overshadowing his bitter rival Cristiano Ronaldo, leading his side to an unexpected victory.
|Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo in El Clasico Matches|
Madrid had been unbeaten in all competitions since the last Clasico in October, per WhoScored.com, but once again fell to their fellow La Liga challengers.
The win means Barca are now just one point behind Madrid in the Spanish title race, per Sky Sports, with both sides now trailing new leaders Atletico Madrid.
Messi Smashes Records
Much of the pre-match talk had been about the falling stock of Lionel Messi.
The Argentina genius has been outshone in recent weeks by Ronaldo, with Barcelona not looking like the imperious machine that they have been in recent seasons.
But El Clasico has reset the barometer, with Messi's undeniable reputation back in place, centre stage.
The player now has 21 goals from his 22 La Liga performances, chipping in with 10 assists, per WhoScored.com.
His hat-trick in the Santiago Bernabeu also signalled the falling of two significant records to the diminutive Barcelona forward.
The player now has 21 goals from El Clasico matches, making him the fixture's highest scorer, as reported by Pete Jenson of The Independent.
This overtakes Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano’s previous record of 18, and offers some extra bragging rights to fans of the Catalan club.
Another former Madridista favourite, Hugo Sanchez, saw himself slip a rung down the all-time La Liga goalscoring charts, after Messi's latest performance.
Jenson writes that Messi now has 235 goals in the Spanish top division, making him the second-highest goalscorer of all time, displacing Mexican Sanchez.
It might seem absurd to describe Ronaldo as a failure, but on the specific night his club needed him to perform, he fell short.
Stefan Coerts of Goal.com reported that the Portuguese Ballon d'Or holder decided to blame the referee for his team's defeat, rather than shoulder any of the responsibly himself.
Coerts quotes Ronaldo as saying:
Undiano Mallenco is not suitable for games like this. We were playing against 12. It's always the same. It's like they don't want us to win and wanted Barcelona back in the title race," Ronaldo told reporters.
I am not looking for excuses but I don't want to stay quiet on this. The referee was not at the required level for a big game like this.
I have been here for five years now and I know how things work. If Barcelona had lost, they would have been out of the title race. I have never seen Real Madrid being favoured by the referees.
Ronaldo's words smack of irresponsibility and if he had managed to reproduce his brilliant form of this season in El Clasico, Barcelona indeed would be out of the title race.
But the night will be viewed as an abject failure by Carlo Ancelotti as his team of Galacticos allowed a Barca side, who have fallen short of their own high standards at times this year, come to their own ground and beat them.
Ronaldo's reputation can be done no favours by his words after such a defeat.
Before Sunday's Clasico match, it was felt that Ronaldo had steamed ahead of Messi in the race to be called the best player on the planet. However, once again it was the little wizard who weaved a spell and took the plaudits.
Lionel Messi is still the best player in world football, but only just. He is the undisputed king of El Clasico.