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02-Mar-2020, 05:50 am

Messi missing Ronaldo? Barca star extends Clasico woes in defeat

Lionel Messi Real Madrid vs Barcelona 2019-20

Real Madrid have struggled to come to terms with the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo over the last two seasons - but it seems that Lionel Messi also misses his perennial rival.

Messi and Ronaldo made the Clasico one of football's most intriguing fixtures for almost a decade, with the pair smashing records on a regular basis.

But while the Portugal hitman's departure to Juventus in the summer of 2018 certainly left a hole in the Merengue line-up, it has also had a negative effect on Messi's form in Spain's biggest match.

The Argentine was unable to make a difference on Sunday as Madrid downed Barcelona 2-0 to regain the Primera Division summit.

Vinicius Junior opened the scoring with a deflected effort late in the second half before Mariano wrapped up the three points just seconds after coming off the bench.

So accustomed to making the difference against Madrid - he is the Clasico's all-time top scorer with 26 goals - Leo now finds himself in an unprecedented slump in the fixture.

He has now gone five Clasicos without finding the net, or even providing an assist, a run that curiously coincides exactly with Ronaldo's Madrid exit.

Messi scored in Cristiano's last derby clash, a 2-2 in May 2018 and in the last five games between the giants before the Portuguese left found the net on five occasions.

The Rosario native has generally suffered in front of the net when Barca have travelled away from home in recent months, with Sunday's blank marking the first time he has gone seven away games without a goal since March 2007.

Barca. meanwhile, have failed to beat Madrid in a Liga season for the first time since 2012-13 following the sides' 0-0 draw back in December.

Not since 1975 had they failed to score in consecutive Clasico matches.

Ronaldo himself was in the Bernabeu stands to watch his former club triumph after Juventus' own Derby d'Italia against Inter was postponed due to public health concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

He saw his ex-colleagues restore their lead at the top of La Liga, as they now lead Barca by a single point while also enjoying the advantage in head-to-head matches in the event of an eventual tie-break.

Barca will hope to pick themselves up from defeat - their fifth of the current Liga campaign - ahead of their next clash, at home to in-form Real Sociedad on Saturday.

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