Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Match Review
Barcelona hosted Real Madrid in El Clasico for the first time in over a year at Spotify Camp Nou. The equation ahead of kickoff was simple- a win or draw would be favourable results for the Catalans while nothing less than a win would suffice for Real Madrid’s title hopes.
Xavi deployed Ronald Araujo at right-back with Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen defending Ter Stegen’s goal centrally. Alejandro Balde took dutied at left-back.
Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong started in midfield while Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Gavi were deployed in the final third.
The game began packed with action as the visitors latched onto an attack immediately. A quick push down Barcelona’s left flank enabled a ball through to Karim Benzema but the French striker could not slot it past the Catalans’ wall in goal.
The chance in the first minute was Real Madrid’s only big chance of the opening minutes as Xavi’s men took over. Over the next ten minutes, Barcelona asserted their dominance as they pushed forward in numbers.
With patient build-up play, Robert Lewandowski was played a good pass in the final third. The Pole dummied Camavinga and took a shot only to be denied by Courtois. Minutes later, the Belgian was forced into action again with Raphinha taking a strong swing of the foot.
The visitors’ opening goal in the ninth minute, in the ninth minute, came completely against the run of play. Vinicius Jr received the ball and was forced to move close to the byline by Bafcelona’s captain from where he attempted a pass into the box.
Ronald Araujo’s unfortunate touch at such a moment put the ball out of Ter Stegen’s reach and nothing could prevent the own goal
Despite going a goal down, the Catalans showed no sign of a mental block. The setback fuelled a period of Barcelona dominance on the field and it was Xavi’s side that dominated the rest of the half by a significant margin.
Andreas Christensen failed to tuck away a phenomenal Raphinha cross six minutes before the half-hour mark before coming painfully close to scoring again with a neat back-flick eight minutes later.
In the 34th minute. Barcelona’s Brazilian winger once again cut into the box and took a vicious shot but Courtois deflected it with his fingertips.
Barcelona’s resilient and persistent attacks began generating more threats in the final minutes of the half. Raphinha, Barcelona’s best player in the first half, began attacking more fearlessly and the verticality of the play improved significantly.
In the end, the Blaugranas were rewarded in the final minute of the half with a well-deserved equaliser.
After recycling an initially missed opportunity, Raphinha took a strong shot goalwards but was denied by Camavinga. Sergi Roberto pounced on the rebound and slotted home the equaliser.
Heading into half-time, nothing separated the two title contenders on the scoreboard. Yet, Xavi was undeniably the happier of the two managers.
The Catalans started the second half on the front foot and even created the first big chance when Raphinha failed to connect with what would be a sure-shot goal.
In the 58th minute, Robert Lewandowski’s attempt went painfully wide of the goal. Barcelona were on top and there was seemingly nothing the visitors could do about it.
Eight minutes later, the Pole attempted an audacious acrobatic finish that somehow ended up outside the goal.
Raphinha orchestrated a wonderful chance with Lewy and Balde in the 75th minute but just could not find the finish. Franck Kessie came on for Roberto in the 76th minute.
Real Madrid took the lead again in the 81st minute through a quick counterattack finished by Asensio. However, the goal was ruled out for offside.
Ferran Torres came on for Raphinha in the 83rd minute. Ansu Fati replaced Gavi in the 90th minute.
The Catalans emphatically took the lead in extra time through Franck Kessie. Robert Lewandowski’s back heel undid Real Madrid’s defence to find Alejandro Balde in space. The youngster’s cross fell perfectly for Kessie who calmly slotted the ball into the goal with no sense of nerves.
With the three points against Real Madrid and an unbelievable comeback, Barcelona take a massive twelve-point lead over their arch-rivals and sit pretty on top of the standings. The league is far from won, but the Catalans are at the doorstep.