Pique lifts Barca as Mi­ami El Cla­sico lives up to hype

Muscat Daily - - PRESS RELEASES -

Mi­ami, US - Ger­ard Pique de­liv­ered Barcelona's match win­ner over Real Madrid on Satur­day as El Cla­sico Mi­ami lived up to the hype.

The Span­ish in­ter­na­tional steered in a Ney­mar free-kick in the 50th minute to seal a 3-2 win for the Cata­lan gi­ants in front of 66,014 at the Hard Rock Sta­dium.

Lionel Messi, who put in a su­perb 64-minute per­for­mance, opened the scor­ing af­ter just three min­utes and when Ivan Rakitic dou­bled the lead soon af­ter, the writ­ing ap­peared to be on the wall for a slug­gish Real Madrid side.

Yet Zine­dine Zi­dane's side quickly woke from its slum­ber and by the end of the first half, goals from Ma­teo Ko­vacic and Marco Asen­sio had pulled them level. What fol­lowed was en­ter­tain­ing, of­ten breath­less friendly fare be­fore Pique struck that de­ci­sive goal.

This was noth­ing more than a pre-sea­son match and ob­vi­ously wasn't go­ing to af­fect the over­all record be­tween these two old ri­vals, which stands at 93 wins for Real, 91 for Barcelona - who had won their most re­cent meet­ing with Messi's last-gasp win­ner - his 500th for the club.

Madrid had the last laugh in May, win­ning Span­ish League and the Cham­pi­ons League, but ac­tu­ally ar­rived in Mi­ami off the back of two ex­hi­bi­tion de­feats - a penalty shootout de­feat to

Man­ches­ter United be­fore Man­ches­ter City also did a num­ber on them in Los An­ge­les, run­ning out 4-1 win­ners.

Barca, mean­while, had beaten United and Ju­ven­tus in In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup com­pe­ti­tion, but the on­go­ing un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Ney­mar - and Paris Saint-Ger­main's re­ported readi­ness to make a US$256mn move for him - has cast a se­ri­ous cloud over their two-week stay in North Amer­ica.

Although Real came back from the early goals, Zi­dane was down­beat about his team's per­for­mance. But he said there was plenty of time to get things right be­fore Madrid take on Man­ches­ter United in the UEFA Su­per Cup on Au­gust 8.

"To­day was a game of two faces for us, one bad, one bet­ter," he said. "Ul­ti­mately we are pre­par­ing for the eighth - we will be ready."


Ger­ard Pique of Barcelona cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing against Real Madrid at Hard Rock Sta­dium in Mi­ami, US, on Satur­day

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