Coming into the first El Clasico match of the 2015 2016 season, most soccer fans and pundits alike were expecting to see a fairly competitive game. Games between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid tend to bring the excitement, and the November 21st fixture had numerous different interesting narrative angles to consider. As it turned out Barcelona crush Real Madrid and confirm their position atop the La Liga table, but what happened during the match?

Heading into the game, no one knew quite what to expect. Barca were leading the La Liga table, but Real would have the home field advantage. New Vikings manager Rafael Benitez would be facing Barcelona for the first time in his tenure. Lionel Messi, rumors indicated, he might be back on the pitch after a lengthy injury spell. And the top five most expensive players in the history of football-Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Neymar, and James Rodriguez-were all set to be on the pitch at the same time, for the first time ever. As is often the case with El Clasico, there wasn't a real consensus on the expected winner.

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An Early Lead

As it turned out, El Clasico wasn't much of a competition this time around. The home squad started off well enough, controlling possession of the ball and making things uncomfortable for Barca in the early minutes of the match. Indeed, when Neymar set the ball flying high over the Real Madrid net at the seven-minute mark, it looked like the defending treble champions might be the team with the problem.

Then, just four minutes later, Luis Suarez shifted the momentum. Taking an assist from Sergi Roberto, who deserves credit for cutting seamlessly through Real Madrid's slow midfield and defense, Suarez scored the first goal of the Barcelona Home Shirt 2015 - 2016day.

That goal was an early break for Barcelona and still left Real with plenty of time to rally, but it still ended up being the turning point of the match. Two minutes later, Roberto had another strong run up the pitch and sent the ball to Ivan Rakitic for a chance at a two-point lead. Rakitic missed, but the dynamic had clearly shifted in Barca's favor.

Barcelona had a few more opportunities to make the score 2-0 throughout the first half-with Roberto almost scoring a goal for himself at the 26-minute mark. Ultimately, though, it was Neymar who netted the goal, converting an assist from Andres Iniesta at 39 minutes. Suarez, Rakitic, and Neymar all almost added additional goals in the final minutes of the half, but the two football teams ended up heading off to the locker rooms with Barca up by two.

More of the Same

Real Madrid looked a bit refreshed after halftime, with Bale and Rodriguez combining for a great attack at Real Madrid Home Shirt 2015 - 2016the 49-minute mark. Barca's Claudio Bravo made a spectacular save, though, and after that near-miss, the second half devolved into more of the same for the Vikings.

At the 53-minute mark, Iniesta added a goal to give Barcelona a three-point lead. That score freed up the visitors to do what every Barcelona fan on the planet was hoping for: put Lionel Messi into the lineup. Leo hadn't seen a minute of playtime since suffering a knee injury in late September, and his entry into El Clasico served as something of a taunt from Barca manager Luis Enrique to Real Madrid: "We can beat you without him, but now we are going to beat you with him."

Messi didn't score the triumphant return goal that many had been hoping for, though he did contribute to the attack that ended in Luis Suarez's second goal of the night. That point, netted at the 74-minute mark, gave Barcelona a near-unprecedented (for El Clasico, anyway) four-point lead. Real had a few more chances to score-including a header from Ronaldo in the final minutes of the game-but a red card for Isco and overall slow and sluggish play turned this loss into a downright embarrassment for the home team.

One for the Record Books

We haven't seen an El Clasico this one-sided since Barca beat Real Madrid 5-0 on November 29th, 2010. Even that game, though, was a home match for Barcelona. You'd have to go all the way back to 2005 to find the last El Clasico where the away team won by even three points.

Bottom line, it's somewhat unusual for the visitors to muster a win in an El Clasico match. It's nearly unheard of for the visitors to crush the home team this badly. The fact that Real Madrid had Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, and Rodriguez on the pitch and still lost by four points makes matters that much worse.

The victory puts Barcelona six points ahead of Real Madrid in the La Liga standings. It also brings Messi back from the disabled list and pushes Neymar and Suarez to 12 and 11 league goals this season, respectively. Needless to say, it's a pretty great time to be a Barcelona fan.

As for Real Madrid, can Rafa Benitez keep his job after this? We'll have to wait and see.

Visit Soccer Box on the web and pick up a Barcelona shirt 2015/16 to celebrate this remarkable El Clasico outcome.