The Catalans were stunned by the concession of a goal to Karim Benzema after just 22 seconds – the fastest goal in Clasico history – but slowly regrouped and, after surviving a couple of scares, they equalised on 30 minutes through Alexis Sanchez before securing a fine win with a Marcelo own goal and Cesc Fabregas' header during a dominant second-half showing.
Pique was understandably thrilled by Barca’s response to going a goal down inside the first minute, and felt that coach Pep Guardiola’s bold decision to play a 3-4-3 formation at the home of their great rivals had ultimately been vindicated.
“We had planned to play with three at the back, but we had to wait until the 10th minute to do it,” the Spain defender was quoted as saying by his club’s official website.
“They were coming at us, but we had the confidence to be ourselves and to impose our play style.”
Victor Valdes, meanwhile, was extremely relieved that the wayward clearance which had led to Madrid’s early opener had not proved fatal to his team’s hopes of reclaiming top spot in La Liga, and the keeper was overjoyed at the full-time whistle.
“We keep on making history,” the Spanish international enthused. “Another game won at the Bernabeu!”
Valdes was not only full of praise for his team-mates but also the club’s “amazing fans, who came to the Bernabeu to cheer us on.” He added: “We’re going to Japan to win the Club World Cup.”
Barca, who do not play again in La Liga this year because of their involvement in the Fifa tournament, kick off their campaign on Thursday against either Esperance or Al Sadd. And they will do so as leaders of La Liga, having leapfrogged Madrid at the top of the standings on head-to-head thanks to the win in the Spanish capital.
"Starting last month and continuing every Friday through to January, Goal.com will publish extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated book, Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World. The most recent extract detailed how Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid have closed the gap on Barca following a period of Catalan dominance."