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Stoppage Time: Barca emerges as winners from latest El Clasico

When the final whistle blew at Barcelona's Camp Nou on Sunday, ending the latest edition of El Clasico, the scoreboard looked like this: Barcelona 2, Real Madrid 2.

But as the two sides walked off the pitch following an entertaining 90 minutes of action, it sure didn't feel as though the Spanish rivals had just shared the spoils.

Real Madrid was a team in desperation mode following a poor start to the new season, which saw the club win only three of its first six league matches.

Barcelona, meanwhile, brought a perfect record into the contest and had opened up an eight-point gap on its rivals.

The game was played in Barcelona, but many felt as though Madrid simply couldn't afford to fall 11 points back of the Catalan side with a loss, despite the fact there would still be 31 games to play after Sunday's Clasico.

Following the match, Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso said that the result was not the worst because they came "to a tough place and against a very good opponent."

And while that is true, you can't help but feel as though Madrid let a great chance slip through its fingers.

Barcelona has gotten the better of Madrid in league play recently, winning four of the six meetings between the two clubs over the past three years.

Yet Sunday felt like a great opportunity for Jose Mourinho's team to haul itself back into title contention with a big win.

Mourinho had an abundance of quality options to choose from, while Barcelona counterpart Tito Vilanova was dealing with a bit of an injury crisis in his defense.

The middle of back line was particularly soft as Spain international Gerard Pique was out with a foot injury, while captain Carles Puyol suffered a gruesome dislocated elbow in Champions League play in the week leading up to Sunday's contest.

Making matters worse was the fact that Vilanova starting right back Dani Alves to a thigh injury midway through the first half, leaving Barca's defense in shambles.

The visitors took advantage with a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, but should have scored a few more as Barca struggled to hold itself together at the back.

However, a fortuitous goal from Lionel Messi before halftime buoyed Barca, and the club found its footing in the second half and took the lead before Ronaldo scored the final goal to earn a point for his team.

Madrid has had leads slip away against Barcelona before, but this one is more disappointing because of the injuries to Barca as well as the fact that Madrid simply needed the result more.

"We're in a good moment right now, we played a great game," said upbeat Barcelona midfielder Xavi after the contest. "We deserved much more, but we always want more when we face our arch-rivals. The eight-point difference allows us to take on future challenges with tranquility."

The result allows Barca to simply move on with its season, knowing that the team still has room for error going forward, while Madrid must find a way to claw itself back into contention with very little wiggle room.

Sunday's match certainly exposed Barcelona's lack of defensive depth, yet it is something the club will surely address in the January transfer window.

The coming weeks could prove tough with injuries depleting the back line. But as we saw on Sunday, Barca is a team that is more than capable of overcoming a few deficiencies with the brilliance of Messi and its wealth of attacking options.

An away draw against Barcelona for Madrid is not a bad result under normal circumstances.

Yet a point from Sunday's match at the Camp Nou against a weakened Barca side has to be a little deflating for the men from the Spanish capital.

The scoreboard may say otherwise, but Sunday's result was a win for Barcelona.