'Clasico' win perfect send-off for Barca
Soccer: Barcelona headed off to Japan for the Club World Cup having proved they are still the side to beat in Spain with their 3-1 'Clasico' victory at the home of arch-rivals Real Madrid.
The European and Spanish champions dealt a demoralising blow to their La Liga title rivals by silencing the Bernabeu on Saturday and more glory could follow if they first negotiate Asian champions Al Sadd in the CWC semi-finals on Thursday.
"Guardiola's Barca are still King," Spanish daily El Paissaid on its Sunday front page, while El Mundo led with "The absolute power of Barca".
Pep Guardiola notched his eighth win in 12 'Clasicos' since taking the helm at the Nou Camp, ending Real's 15-match winning streak in all competitions and putting his side level at the top with Jose Mourinho's team but having played a game more.
"We continue making history. Another game won at the Bernabeu," gloated goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who won praise from Guardiola for quickly getting over the howler he committed to gift Real the opening goal in the first minute.
"We head off to Japan to win the world title."
Cesc Fabregas, scorer of Barca's third, added: "This gives us a lot of confidence for the Club World Cup. One thing is clear, the journey will be much more enjoyable."
Barca recovered from their early setback thanks to a piece of brilliance from Lionel Messi, who set up Alexis Sanchez for the equaliser after 30 minutes as the visitors slowly imposed themselves on the game.
In the second half, with Barca leaving three at the back to pack midfield, a deflected shot from Xavi and a diving header from Fabregas left the Bernabeu bewildered after having witnessed such a positive start from their team.
Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta was outstanding after the break and El Paisdescribed him as "a Nijinsky with boots".
Cristiano Ronaldo, joint La Liga top scorer with Messi on 17, missed two glaring opportunities which could have put Real 2-0 up and later level at 2-2.
There were murmurings of discontent from home fans as once again he failed to rise to the occasion against Barca.
"Iniesta and Messi superb, Cristiano had his worst night," Madrid-based sports daily ASsaid on its front page.
Marcadedicated its entire page three to a photo of Ronaldo down on one knee in front of World Player of the Year Messi.
Real captain Iker Casillas defended his team mate when asked about Ronaldo's quiet game.
"We are all a team and it isn't possible to single out one player," he said. "This is a competition with 38 games, this is what we need to be thinking about. Everyone will be talking about Madrid-Barca, but our immediate future now is the King's Cup and away at Sevilla."