New signing Alaba on target as Real Madrid win fourth El Clásico
Real Madrid emerged victorious in the latest installment of El Clásico, earning a 2-1 victory at Barcelona on Sunday afternoon at the Camp Nou in LaLiga Santander.
A majestic first half strike from David Alaba and a stoppage time goal from Lucas Vazquez proved enough, with Sergio Aguero tallying a consolation score for the hosts in the dying seconds.
Ronald Koeman had a surprising inclusion in his starting XI, with Oscar Mingueza slotted in at right-back, while Sergino Dest was pushed forward as a right-winger.
Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti went with an attack-minded line-up, consisting of Lucas Vazquez at right-back, Ferland Mendy at left-back and Rodrigo joining fellow Brazilian Vinicius up top with Karim Benzema.
There was a feeling out between the two sides for the first quarter of an hour, but then that gave way to chances and the first went for Barcelona when Dest was presented with a gilt-edged opportunity in front of goal, but he instead sent his shot to the heavens.
It was a let-off for Real Madrid, and they gladly took advantage, with Rodrigo sliding a pass over to Alaba, who took a touch before firing a wondrous left-footed strike across goal and just inside the far post to make it 1-0.
Philippe Coutinho was summoned during the break for Mingueza, meaning Dest dropped back to his usual right-back spot, as Barcelona remained on the front foot in their search for an equaliser.
However, as the second stanza wore on, Real Madrid started to impose themselves and, if not for a last-gasp intervention from Dest and then a save from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, both Vinicius and Benzema likely would have had goals.
The first change for the away side came 20 minutes from full time, with Rodrigo making way for Fede Valverde, while Barcelona countered with Aguero on for Ansu Fati and then Sergi Roberto for Frenkie de Jong.
The defensive change for Real Madrid signalled Ancelotti's comfort with using his defence to see things out, with an eye toward getting a second via the counter-attack.
Koeman's final roll of the dice was youngster Gavi off for Luuk de Jong, while Marco Asensio gave Real Madrid fresh legs in place of a limping Vinicius and Dani Carvajal replaced Fede Valverde.
Ancelotti's approach worked to a tee as a Barcelona attack bereft of ideas in the second half couldn't land the leveller, and a stoppage time counter saw Lucas Vazquez put the nail in the coffin for a 2-0 lead.
A last-gasp goal from Aguero made sure Real Madrid couldn't keep a clean sheet, but the spoils were all for the visitors as they claimed a 2-1 win, their fourth Clasico victory in a row.