Three talking points from Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid
A third successive El Clasico win was written in the stars for Barcelona on Sunday night as the Catalan giants downed Real Madrid by a scoreline of 2-1 at Spotify Camp Nou.
Vinicius Jr induced an error from Ronald Araujo to give his side the lead in their away fixture. Persistent attacks from Barcelona, however, helped them steal level just before halftime through Sergi Roberto.
In the end, it was a well-worked goal by Franck Kessie that gave the hosts a late lead and a deserved win. It takes them a massive step towards sealing the La Liga title with a commanding twelve-point lead.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from El Clasico.
1. Never say never
The last time Barcelona came back from a deficit to win in a league Clasico was in October 1989. For Xavi’s side to do so and break the longstanding record is no mean feat.
Real Madrid are said to be the comeback kings and masters of mentality. The Merengues have built a reputation for themselves of never giving up and fighting till the very end. Last night, the Catalans gave their arch-rivals a taste of their own medicine.
Despite going a goal down early, Barcelona never looked fazed at any point during the Clasico. The Blaugrana kept pushing forward in numbers with the belief that an equaliser was around the corner and completely suppressed Real Madrid’s threats.
What makes the story even more special is the fact that Barcelona did not stop at one. A draw would have been a favourable result for Xavi’s men by preserving their nine-point lead in La Liga. Yet, the hosts continued to embrace an open and attacking brand of football until the very last minute and were rewarded a three-point boost through Kessie’s goal.
Xavi’s rebuild of the side, not only sporting-wise but from a mental fortitude point of view has to be lauded. Needless to say, the Clasico of March 19th will go down as the night Barcelona refused to give up.
2. Xavi has Ancelotti’s number
Of their five meetings since Xavi Hernandez took over the helms at FC Barcelona, Carlo Ancelotti has won only one.
The Catalan manager won his first Clasico in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu by a whopping four-goal margin and has continued his good run against Real Madrid with three wins in his last three meetings with the Italian tactician’s team. The only consolation for Los Blancos came in the first league Clasico this season.
Not all of the Azulgranas’ games against the European champions have been beautiful. Yet, there is a visible struggle the Merengues face on the field repeatedly while locking horns with Xavi’s side.
For starters, the Catalan coach has managed to largely limit Vinicius Jr’s advances in the final third through Ronald Araujo. The introduction of Alejandro Balde as a left-back has exposed Real Madrid’s weak right-wing time and time again and it is safe to say that the gap in the quality of full-backs is vast.
The midfield is another area where Barcelona have proven to be dominant in recent Clasicos. The young core of Frenkie de Jong, Gavi, and Pedri and the dynamic profile of Franck Kessie have been the perfect complement to maximise Sergio Busquets’ productivity. All in all, Real Madrid’s old guard is no match in intensity and stamina.
The third element, undoubtedly, is the forward line fresh for ideas. For Barcelona to win two games against Real Madrid without Pedri and Dembele in itself shows the depth and talent that Xavi has created for himself.
One Clasico remains this season, and even a draw on that night at Spotify Camp Nou will see Barcelona knock out Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey. With Xavi having Ancelotti’s number, it does not appear a distant possibility.
3. At the pedestal
12 games to go in La Liga and 12 points ahead. Had anyone offered the hosts such an advantage before the season commenced, Barcelona would have taken it with both arms open.
Xavi and the players echoed the thoughts that La Liga was far from won after the Clasico victory on Sunday. Yet, looking at the sheer range of celebrations and emotions that poured out on the field after the full-time whistle, it is hard to imagine that the feeling is otherwise.
Xavi’s men have a relatively easy run-in into the final phase of the league season. They host the tricky teams including Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo, Real Betis and Osasuna at home with a relatively easier set of away games.
They would have to go on to lose four games out of twelve to let La Liga slip out of their hands. It may be premature to state, but Barcelona might well have clinched La Liga with the result against Real Madrid.