Barcelona went to Anoeta with one clear intention: To win the game. With the same lineup, Ronald Koeman’s men had to confirm their good run of form in a usually tricky ground, Anoeta.
The Catalan giants were superior, even though their opponents were not too bad themselves. The visitors had more of the ball, but the locals defended as if their lives depended on it.
After many attempts, the best team on the night got their breakthrough. Barcelona were leading 2-0 at half-time and deservedly so. Koeman’s men deserve a lot of praise for such a through performance.
What a performance! A brilliant, well-organised display by a team in complete confidence right now.
Everyone was brilliant, from Marc-André Ter Stegen to Ousmane Dembélé, passing by the usual suspects in Lionel Messi, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong. The Catalans, on the same day Atletico Madrid put on a pale showing against Alavés at home, did not only put the best team in La Liga performance, but the show was also worthy of the best team in Europe shouts!
The visitors’ goals were delightful, their performance, apart from one meaningless mistake, even better. Such arrangements will only make Koeman and his men more popular in the Blaugrana fanbase, and these people deserve it.
24′ Real Sociedad launch the ball forward, and Frenkie de Jong tried to cover it. The Dutchman makes a weak backpass, and Alexander Isak runs towards Marc-André Ter Stegen, who denies the Swedish forward from close range.
36′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-1 Barça: Barcelona cap off a brilliant team move with a classic combination between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba. The left-back’s cross gets to Ousmane Dembélé, who misses his one-on-one. Antoine Griezmann, right behind his fellow Frenchman, scores to open the scoring for his side on his birthday.
39′ Right after the opener, Isak has another go at Ter Stegen after the keeper’s shaky pass went right into Mikel Merino’s feet. Again, the German goalkeeper makes a brilliant save to deny the striker.
43′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-2 Barça: Sergio Busquets and de Jong play a game of their own in the middle of the pitch. The former sends Messi on the counter, and the captain uses Ousmane Dembélé’s dummy run to make a through ball towards Sergiño Dest’s path. The American’s excellent finish doubles the lead for his side.
53′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-3 Barça: Pedri and Griezmann play a brilliant one-two in front of the opponents’ box. Pedri lays the ball off to Alba, who goes deep into the box and sends a beautiful cross to Dest. The right-back scores the third Barça goal of his career and his second in La Liga!
56′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-4 Barça: Busquets, from the centre circle, finds Lionel Messi with one of the most delightful pinged through balls. The Argentine legend finishes the move off brilliantly. 4-0 Barça.
66′ Dembélé makes a brilliant run in behind the defence, and Messi spots him. VAR deems the Frenchman offside after he finished it from range.
71′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-5 Barça: Dembélé gets the ball in the middle of the pitch and dribbles past three players. The Frenchman enters the box and directly launches a rocket towards the bottom corner. 5-0 Barça and a brilliant goal for Dembélé, whose confidence needed it.
77′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 1-5 Barça: La Real’s superb move opens up the whole defence as Ander Barrenetxea is on the edge of the area. The teenager’s strike is sublime and allows his team to go back home with something positive.
89′ GOAL! Real Sociedad 1-6 Barça: Barça play some beautiful passes in La Real’s box as Alba, Riqui Puig and Messi combine superbly. The former’s cross is the cake for Messi’s strike to put the cherry on top. What a superb goal and an even more stunning finish.
Three talking points from Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
In the final edition of El Clásico in the 2020/21 domestic campaign, Barcelona incurred their fifth defeat of the league campaign. It was end-to-end stuff in the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, as an exceptional first-half performance from the hosts was followed up by a tantalizing second from Barça.
This game had everything someone could ask for in a Clásico. There was controversy, passion, goals and for the first time in a few years, a red card was the cherry on the top. These are Barca Universal’s takeaways from the game in the capital.
Real Madrid’s efficiency on show
With four shots on target, 1.58 Expected Goals, and two goals to their name, Real Madrid put to show their sheer efficacy in front of goal, as well as in defence. For the first half at least, Zinédine Zidane’s men were always at the right place, at the right time making all the right movements and to devastating effect.
Los Blancos‘ philosophy is one of winning, and doing so regardless of how the victory is earned. Contrary to the Catalans, who not only need to win, but also do it a certain way, Los Merengues are more than capable of abandoning their usually proactive approach to games in favour of a more reactive one. The fact that they are not bound to a specific ideology makes winning matches one of the simplest of tasks.
They held the ball for only 32% of the game, which goes completely against what a majority would expect them to. At the end of the day, however, possession matters significantly less than what one does with it. With every lapse in concentration from the Garnet and Blue, Madrid had enough men forward, and well enough positioned, to hit them where it hurt.
Despite the relatively low xG, they had enough big chances to even lead 4-0 come the halftime whistle. When it came to defending, their tight-knit defence, in stark contrast to that of their rivals, barely broke a sweat. They imposed an impenetrable low block, and applied a collective press to force as many errors as they could.
In addition to this, Zidane has the luxury of having a starting eleven of devastatingly versatile footballers in his arsenal. Fede Valverde for instance was as much a right-back as he was a central midfielder and a winger. He executed each role to pristine perfection, and so did his peers to ensure all 3 points, and bragging rights stayed in Madrid.
Excellent mentality shift
Following such a harrowing performance in the first half, few, if any, could have expected Barcelona to mount a comeback. Had this been any other team, that would have been possible, but given Real Madrid’s first-half performance, this was all but envisageable.
Indeed, the Catalans did fail to get any points from the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, however, the sheer mentality they showed in the second half was a sight for sore eyes. Ronald Koeman made the necessary adjustments to the side, reverting to the 4-3-3 and with it, they wrought trouble in the Madrid backline.
Lionel Messi celebrating the goal. pic.twitter.com/ZX1HzWSqAR— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) April 10, 2021
If in the first half Barça seemed caged in endless cycles of worthless possession, then in the second they made thorough use of it. The Blaugrana created eleven chances for themselves in the second period, and while doing this, they in turn limited Los Blancos to just a single shot on goal for the entirety of the half; a complete turnover from their performance in the opening 45 minutes.
It was nail-biting stuff up until the final second of the game, as Ilaix Moriba’s volleyed effort struck the underside of the crossbar. Given the overall performance from both sides, a draw would have been a considerably fairer result, but even in defeat with this version of Barça, the players and fans know that they can keep their heads held high.
A game of fine margins
Games of the magnitude of El Clásico will forever be decided by the most minute of details and the same was the case here.
The first significant one was the frame of the goal. In the first half, following the umpteenth counter attack from Real Madrid, Fede Valverde, who up until then was having yet another phenomenal showing against Barcelona, struck the frame of the post with a shot that crucially bounced underneath Sergio Busquets.
In the second half, Ronald Araújo nearly scored an own goal, but with Ter Stegen rooted to the spot, the ball rolled delicately onto the post and out for a corner. In the final minute of the match, and with Madrid fighting for their lives, Ilaix Moriba struck the underside of the crossbar to end this sensational tie on an emotional high.
Jordi Alba has often been criticized for being just as much a blessing offensively as he is a curse defensively. In the build-up to the hosts’ opener, he had one task to fulfill: mark his opposing fullback. This is one he absolutely failed, as he drifted too far inside, and by the time he had noticed his error, Lucas Vázquez already had Karim Benzema in his sights. Too little, too late.
The final significant detail was in the goal that won Los Blancos the game. After what many consider a poorly given free-kick from the referee’s standpoint, Toni Kroos surely could not believe his eyes when he saw the sheer state of Barça’s wall. Marc André Ter Stegen’s poor leadership of his defenders left him utterly vulnerable, and his German counterpart spared him no blushes, slotting it home to seal the victory for his side.