30 July 2017

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Gareth Bale was a no show, Lionel Messi loves playing Real and Neymar was in the wars

BARCELONA came out on top in a five-goal thriller against Real Madrid as the El Clasico pre-season fixture lived up to expectations.

It had everything – great strikes, mesmerising skills and heated battles as Gerard Pique’s winner handed his new boss Ernesto Valverde his win over Los Blancos.

Gerard Pique scored the second-half winner
Getty Images – Getty
Lionel Messi opened the scoring after three minutes
Getty Images – Getty

Here’s five things we learnt from the Hard Rock Stadium.

Gareth Bale’s no Cristiano

THE WELSHMAN struggled to stamp his authority on the match and made little to no impact – while rival stars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez all stepped up.

The 28-year-old had Karim Benzema alongside him but he was without star man Cristiano Ronaldo, who has skipped the entirety of the US tour.

Bale had a golden opportunity to impress the adoring fans in the US, when he latched onto a long ball but his heavy touch let him down, forcing him to shoot from a tight angle and Jasper Cillessen comfortably saved his effort.

He needs Ronaldo alongside him really shine.

Neymar in the wars

NEYMAR had a very eventful evening – brutal by pre-season standards.

It started off badly as he had to receive treatment in the opening minute when he fell to the floor clutching his foot after no contact.

Gareth Bale struggled to make an impression in Miami
Getty Images – Getty
Dani Carvajal (left) and Neymar (right) clashed throughout the game
AFP or licensors
Neymar temporarily left the field in the opening minutes of the match
AFP or licensors

The winger sunk to the floor after he felt pain his foot after controlling the ball, but he was eventually able to play on.

He wasn’t on the field for Messi’s opener after three minutes.

The Brazilian also clashed with Madrid fullback Dani Carvajal twice – the winger barged Carvajal as the ball went for a corner sending him to into the barriers as an official slowed him down pitch side.

The fullback then got payback as he barged Neymar in the back as the Barca star was shepherding the ball out for a corner.

Neymar was able to laugh off the latter incident as Carvajal claimed he did nothing wrong.

Made for Messi

LIONEL MESSI just loves playing against Real Madrid.

He picked up where he left off when he scored twice at the Bernabeu in April, including an injury-time winner.

In actual playing time, there was only a few minutes between that strike in Madrid and his early goal in Miami.

Lionel Messi was in fine form for Barcelona
Getty Images – Getty

Madrid’s leaky defence

ZINEDINE ZIDANE’S side is known for being attack-minded, but it was another leaky defensive display to go with the one against Man City.

There is no shame in being carved open by Barcelona, but they were outnumbered in their own box on a number of occasions.

The winning goal for Barcelona from Gerard Pique saw him completely free in the box as he tapped in Neymar’s cross from a set-piece.

Barcelona had numerous chances against Zinedine Zidane’s side
AP:Associated Press

Only in America

FOR the second time in this International Champions Cup tournament, Miami have marked the occasion with a half-time show.

Marc Anthony came out and entertained the crowd at the Hard Rock Stadium, and I use that term loosely.

It’s one of those ‘when in Rome’ situations that the teams have to go along with when making these pre-season tours for commercial reasons.

But really, America, save the half-time show for the Super Bowl.

Marc Anthony performed the half-time show at Hard Rock Stadium
Marc Anthony performed the half-time show at Hard Rock Stadium
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