Seven Real Madrid stars -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuaín, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria -- were on the bench when Saturday's La Liga clasico against Barcelona kicked off, yet Real pulled off a 2-1 win, its second win over Barca within a week.
Coach Jose Mourinho rested the players for Tuesday's Champions League clash at Manchester United. (Arbeloa, Khedira and Ronaldo were second-half subs.) Last Tuesday, Real beat Barca, 3-1, to reach the Spanish Cup final. It marked the first time Real Madrid beat Barca twice in a row for almost six years, but Barcelona still has an 11-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid and a 13-point edge over third-place Real.
Lionel Messi scored Barca's lone goal on Saturday. It was his 18th Clasico goal, tying Alfredo Di Stefano's record, and kept his streak of goals in 16 straight La Liga games alive.
But goals by Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema sunk Barcelona, which will be without keeper Victor Valdes, who is expected to receive a lengthy suspension for verbally abusing referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa at the final whistle. Valdes claimed Barca had deserved a late penalty kick. According the the referee's report, Valdes yelled, "You [the officials] s**t yourselves, you have no shame."