But what was the fallout after Barcelona’s 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou?
With none of the four superstars at their dazzling best, it was the Barca possession coupled with Real’s defensive frailties and tactical naivety that widened the gap between the two global icons to six points.
A bizarre Carlo Ancelotti decision to play Los Merengues’ best defender in midfield allowed Andres Iniesta the freedom of Catalonia to release Neymar down the left. Once in the area there is few more feared by defenders as he punished them, with a semi-fortuitous finish into the bottom corner.
The logic was understandable from Ancelotti. In an attempt to curtail the Barca possession in midfield he would have Sami Khedira and Sergio Ramos physically breaking up the play, stopping the supply to Messi, but adversely they looked lost.
Madrid would have known counter-attacking against Barca, alas Bayern Munich, would have been their best bet. But two of the best counter attacking players in the world in Ronaldo and Bale, were starved of quick ball in dangerous areas.
The only real moment of true class came from substitute Alexis Sanchez with his sublime chip to win the game. The Chilean has worked tirelessly since signing from Udinese, not always with results, but his pure pace and strength give Barca a different option to the home grown Cesc Fabregas.
But where now for each side?
Barcelona will still be smarting from that German lesson in last season’s Champions League Semi-Final and don’t look to have rectified defensive problems yet this season.
The signing of Neymar will please the fans but the lack of credible central defenders should alarm Tito Martino. With Carlos Puyol surely coming to the end of his career, Javier Mascherano still very impetuous, Gerard Pique could do with a dependable partner.
For all of Pique’s talent he can be susceptible when left exposed one-on-one with pace as Ronaldo showed last year and countless others since then.
You get the feeling though that Barca’s incredible possession and Messi’s goals will sweep aside the rest of La Liga, perhaps not needing as many points as last year with Real in transition.
Madrid on the other hand may be battling with their neighbours Atletico if they continue as they are.
They looked poor at Camp Nou despite a late Jese Rodriguez goal. Their fans will point you towards the Karim Benzema strike that rattled the bar and the Ronaldo penalty appeal at 1-0, but in truth had they have got anything from their trip to Catalonia it would have been unjust.
Los Blancos have scored some late goals this season just to get where they are now in third, and you would like to think things will only get better under Ancelotti, who has proved a success pretty much everywhere he has been.
Surely Madrid President Florentino Perez appointed the Italian for the obsessive conquest that is ‘La Decima’, that elusive 10th European Cup. And the proof will be in the pudding come May in Lisbon if Ramos, or perhaps even Champions League specialist goalkeeper Iker Casillas, lifted the famous big-eared trophy.
And with the likes of Ronaldo and Bale, who is way too talented not to come good, nobody will want to play them. But you wouldn’t have them as favourites on this season’s showings so far.
Having seen Bayern Munich dismantle Manchester City in England and Dortmund also do the business at Arsenal you would still have last year’s Champions League finalists ahead of the El Classico contenders, with their own specific fallibilities.
But what is for sure is La Liga will surely provide magic with teams that have such wealth in attack and seemingly look to simply outscore the opposition. And when you have Neymar, Messi, Bale, Ronaldo and blank chequebooks why bother defending?