Take away the rivalry that divides a nation for a while; you have Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, joint winners of the last six Ballon d’Ors, Neymar and Gareth Bale, over £150m of talent, add another seven FIFA best eleven finalists on the starting team sheets then you can grasp the intentions of both clubs. These teams did not invest to compete; they invested to win every Clasico and every trophy.

For Real Madrid, it was a matter of pulling away from Barcelona in the La Liga table and trim the title race down to the two Madrid teams.

Carlo Ancelotti has a free scoring forward trio of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale so his plan was to focus on outscoring Barca. He started the game with the usual offensive 4-3-3 formation that has served him so well this season.

Tata Martino set his side to attack in a 4-3-3 formation led by Messi, Neymar to his right and Andres Iniesta to his left.

Cesc Fabregas had a free role in front of the Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets. Defensively, the Argentine manager had a 4-4-2 formation in which Iniesta dropped to left wing, then let Neymar and Messi break from the space left by Marcelo, Real Madrid’s left-back.

Iniesta and Fabregas were interchanging positions smoothly, and Iniesta profited from the movement by sneaking at the blind side of Daniel Carvajal to get the opening goal.

On the other hand, Angel Di Maria was sharper and quicker than Xavi, who was minding him. Di Maria kept accelerating away from Xavi and making diagonal runs onto the space that Dani Alves occasionally left, before picking Benzema with crosses.

The Di Maria-Benzema combination was fruitful as the France international kept pulling away from Javier Mascherano and receiving the ball in dangerous positions.

It didn’t take long in the first half before Di Maria displaced an off-form Ronaldo from the left. Ronaldo tucked inside as a second striker in a revised 4-4-2 formation.

In the second half, the game was stretched as both sides kept pushing for more goals. Real Madrid restored their 4-3-3 formation to try and cash in on Ronaldo and Bale’s pace on the break.

The defining moment of the game came on the 64th minute when Sergio Ramos clipped Neymar as the Brazilian was bearing down on goal. Ramos was sent off and Real Madrid never recovered from the triple punishment.

The home team sacrificed Benzema for Raphael Varane and adjusted to a 4-4-1 formation led by Ronaldo, but Barcelona added more threat to their attacks by introducing Pedro for Neymar and Alexis Sanchez for Fabregas.

Real conceded too much ground and they paid for letting Barcelona into their box by conceding another penalty.

Tata Martino’s job is under huge scrutiny; there are growing rumours of the club hierarchy making other plans and the journalists keep asking him uncomfortable questions.

He may point to his point tally matching what Pep Guardiola secured in his debut season as proof that he is still the man for the job, but he knew that this was a game he badly needed to win. That’s exactly what he did.

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