Real prepare perfectly as Barça flop

Not content with having 24 hours longer to recover from this weekend’s league programme than Liverpool, Real Madrid raced into a 6-1 half-time lead against Real Betis on Saturday and were able to give Fabio Cannavaro, Raul and Gonzalo Higuain the second half off. They face Rafa Benitez’s side in 48 hours fresh and flying after a ninth straight win took them within seven points of Barcelona.

For some reason the big screens at the Nou Camp chose not to display the scores from elsewhere on Saturday. No word of the gap, 12 points a fortnight ago, being reduced to seven and no mention of Juande Ramos’ revolution claiming its ninth victim.

With both big guns kicking off at the same time the smart money was on two easy home wins. Barcelona were after all facing a team 42 points behind them. But Espanyol, who had not won since November dealt Barça their first defeat since August. Thierry Henry headed Messi’s cross over as Barça dominated the opening stages while 375 miles away Madrid went ahead, Gonzalo Higuain scoring from a Raul assist.

The chances dried up for Barça and the floodgates opened at the Bernabeu. Gabriel Heinze crossed and Klaas Jan Huntelaar headed in the second. The Dutchman scored the third at the second attempt. Ricardo Oliveira pulled one back for Real Betis but Raul made it 4-1, converting a Marcelo cross. Minutes later in Barcelona the leaders went down to 10 men when Seydou Keita was harshly given a straight red for a foul on Moises Hurtado. Madrid then added two more from Raul and Sergio Ramos.

As Real cruised through the second half the wheels came off for Barcelona. Thierry Henry was sacrificed as they tried to cope with going down to 10 men. Espanyol seized the initiative and Ivan De La Peña put them ahead after 50 minutes. The midfielder made it two after being gifted possession by Victor Valdes.

Yaya Touré scored on the hour to give Barcelona hope but there was no way back.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate