Round 1 of the 2017-18 El Clasico rivalry favored Barcelona, courtesy of goals scored by Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique, who knocked off Real Madrid in the two sides’ preseason friendly in Miami, Fla., on Saturday.
Messi opened the scoring with fewer than three minutes on the clock, finishing a quick counter-attack down the right side of the box with a quick cut inside and a fortuitous deflection.
Just as quickly as Messi made it 1-0, Rakitic made it 2-0, in the 7th minute. Luis Suarez touched Neymar’s cross past himself to the waiting Croatian, whose first-time, perfectly placed shot beat Keylor Navas with ease.
Seven minutes later, Mateo Kovacic pulled Madrid back to within a goal. The 23-year-old Croatian slalomed past three defenders 25 yards out, squared himself to the goal and fired past Jasper Cillessen, who had no chance at making the save.
Nine minutes before halftime, Marco Asensio drew Madrid back onto level terms with a confident finish to complete a lightning-quick, three-on-two counter. Karim Benzema played the decoy as Asensio and Kovacic played the ball back and forth before Asensio slammed it home with Cillessen sent to his right and the shot to his left.
Barca’s winner came five minutes into the second half, when Neymar’s free kick found a completely unmarked Pique at the top of the six-yard box. The finish was textbook as the 10,000 times he’s done it in training, and that was that — a 3-2 victory for Barca in the first “Clasico” played on foreign soil in 35 years.