Barcelona and Real Madrid met outside of Spain for the first time in the first friendly Clasico meeting between the two sides. It got off to a flying start as Lionel Messi scored an impressive goal just two minutes in, with Ivan Rakitic adding another from the edge of the box only four minutes later.
Real Madrid worked their way back into the game though, with Matteo Kovacic adding an equally as memorable striker from outside the box to halve the difference. Then, in a smart counter attacking move, young Marco Asensio took his chance to draw the scores level before half-time with a tap in past Jasper Cillessen.
It was an unlikely, yet always controversial, figure who grabbed the winner, as Gerard Pique broke free at a set piece to poke home from six yards out early in the second half. In a tense second half, neither side could find another way through, despite the likes of Isco and Neymar both going close.
Here is what The Boot Room learnt from the game…
It was all about Neymar…
It took the Brazilian less than a minute to go down, clutching his ankle despite no contact from any opposition players. Off the pitch for Lionel Messi’s opening goal, he didn’t celebrate the strike.
Back on the field, he was instrumental in setting up Ivan Rakitic’s goal to double Barcelona’s lead, then shoved Dani Carvajal into hoardings and put in a nasty challenge on Casemiro. A missed one on one, numerous skills and fouls later, Neymar was the star of the show in what could be his final appearance in a Barcelona shirt.
…but Barcelona don’t need him
It took Lionel Messi just two minutes to open the scoring with a magical goal and his quality shone through despite all the theatrics and drama surrounding his Brazilian team-mate in attack.
With Luis Suarez his usual bustling self in the middle and Ivan Rakitic bombing on from midfield with some dangerous shots from distance, it was clear that Barcelona won’t be lacking a goal threat even if Neymar does move on.
Clasicos don’t do friendlies
Few pre-season friendlies in history have provided the tension, desire and entertainment that this clash provided. Five goals, numerous yellow cards and players willing to give their all until the very last minute is far form the norm, even in the illustrious International Champions Cup.
Both sides boasted immense quality, from Messi’s magical dribbling for his first to the fine finish of Matteo Kovacic to draw one back, the US saw the best of Spanish football. With two Clasicos in the Spanish Super Cup in August, fans have got plenty to look forward to once the season finally gets underway.
Something is not quite right with Gareth Bale
The Welshman started for Real Madrid after speculation throughout the week linking him with a move away. However, he failed to shine, with the few opportunities that fell his way often ending up in the crowds behind the Barcelona goal.
Bale cut an isolated figure at times and the frustration showed, seemingly trying too hard when on the ball and looking for a wonder pass to split the defence or to score from an impossible angle. Looking tired as the second half wore on, he’s clearly not at the top of his game at the moment.
Just wait for Cristiano Ronaldo to come back
It wasn’t just Bale who was off the pace as Real Madrid failed to produce their best display. With their star man not yet back in training after an extended break following the Confederations Cup, he will soon return to join in pre-season after a personal tour of Asia.
The number seven is Zinedine Zidane’s talisman and his quality in front of goal may have proved the difference on a different day. In a close matched tie, the addition of Ronaldo may have made the decisive difference.