No one will stop Xavi from taking the gold. Barça put Real Madrid under pressure in El Clasico and are 12 points clear
PEP ROOTS FOR JAVI
El Clasico needs no further warming of interest and adherence to principles. Too different and too irreconcilable opponents and not only represent football clubs, but also symbolize the political characteristics of Spain. So everyone (except, apparently, Atletico fans) has preferences in this comparison.
However, the new meeting of the teams stood out against the general backdrop. First of all, for the Catalans. On the one hand, they were determined to complete the championship race that evening. The nine-point lead made it possible, in the event of a victory, to close the issue of gold medals, and a draw left minimal chances for creamy.
On the other hand, after the judicial scandal with the intervention of the Barcelona prosecutor’s office, a less complacent climate reigns. Let players try not to read this news, it’s clear they don’t live in a vacuum and at least get links to media reports from their friends. And there is a hypothetical possibility of losing out to European competition and even setting an example. It seems that while there’s no serious reason to expect the worst, it’s nerve-wracking nonetheless.
The match was so significant (are there more El Clasicos?) that even Pep Guardiola, who has enough business at Manchester City, visited the Camp Nou this Sunday evening.
Xavi and Carlo Ancelotti are rather predictable coaches in terms of starting lineups, and this time they didn’t give themselves away: a reciprocal 4-3-3 with all the stars at the start. The composition of Real Madrid can generally be defined with eyes closed, which creates difficulties for the team: some players have an excessive workload, while others mentally and physically go out on the bench. At Barça, only Sergi Roberto can be noticed in the center of the field, and not Frank Kessier, but it is understandable: the Spaniard is more experienced, more restrained, more predictable in playing with the ball.
The plan itself was good. From the very first minutes, the Blaugrana surrounded Thibaut Courtois’ penalty area and forced him several times to enter the match very seriously. But the coaches hint, but the ball lays out. On scoring chances at the visitors’ gate he failed to pass the goalkeeper, and in a rare counter-attack on other people’s goals he ended up behind the tape. It was Vinicius who fired a cross in front in the penalty area and hit Ronaldo Araujo on the head, from which the ball flew into the near corner. Ricochet, of course, offensive, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen must take the blame for the goal himself. It’s clear that he’s already shifted his weight to the far leg, but he’s had time to at least try to fight back.
The sad irony is that Xavi personally sent Araujo under Vinicius. On March 2, the teams met as part of the Spanish Cup (Barça won 1-0 in Madrid), and that time the Uruguayan ate the Brazilian without sauce. And now here is such an incident at the very beginning of the game.
THAT’S WHY ROBERTO WAS OUT
The goal invisibly changed the atmosphere on the pitch. The hosts, who came out with full confidence in their abilities, suddenly faded into the background. No, they didn’t let the opponent dominate, but they themselves weren’t so aggressive anymore. Surprisingly, even in possession of the ball and the number of passes, Real Madrid were inferior to their opponents in terms of statistical error. Although, in general, in such games little attention is paid to this.
However, the home side managed to recover even before the break. In the end he helped the assault attack, during which all the rebounds and rebounds were in favor of the Catalans. In the end, the ball bounced off Roberto, who shot accurately for a corner, but Courtois was unable to help out, as he did not have time to get up after the previous shot.
It’s worth noting that for both star centre-forwards Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema, this was far from the best match. Both almost did not receive the ball in the penalty area and, as a result, very rarely got into shock positions. The only difference is that the Frenchman regularly bounced in front of the penalty area and tried to tie something up there, but then he didn’t always have time to get back into position. The Pole just got lost among the creamy defenders. As a result, Vinicius and Rafinha looked much sharper than their partners.
KESSIER HAS COME OUT AND DECIDED
The second half proved to be uneven for both teams. At times Barça combined impressively, even in the other half, did not shy away from medium passes and subtle diagonals, but regularly missed counter-attacks led by Vinicius. A huge amount of work was done by 37-year-old Luka Modric, this time he was called upon to help his comrades more in creating and therefore regularly appeared in front of someone else’s penalty area.
Ancelotti was the first to get tired of looking at what was happening with indifference. At the end of an hour of play, he released Ferland Mendy and Rodrigo (unusually, instead of Toni Kroos), and 15 minutes before the end, Aurélien Tchouameni, Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio. The latter almost managed to become the hero of the meeting. Shortly after the release, he put his foot under Dani Carvajal’s sight pass and sent the ball for a corner, but in the first replay it became apparent that he went offside with his shoulder. It’s embarrassing, but right.
While Ancelotti completely renewed the squad, Xavi made point substitutions, only finally releasing Kessier (in place of Roberto, who had scored for a reason) and Ferran Torres (in place of the best player of the Catalans Rafinha). The finale, as they say, was three achievements. Luck could turn to anyone and Real Madrid even had a territorial and moral advantage. However, El Clasico ended in victory for the hosts: already in stoppage time, Kessier ran into someone else’s penalty area and closed Alejandro Balde’s aimed pass.
“Barcelona” can be congratulated on the championship. His lead over Real Madrid is now 12 points. On April 5, we are waiting for the next El Clasico series – in the response of the Spanish Cup.
La Liga. 26th lap
“Barcelona” – “Real” – 2:1 (1:1)
Goals: Araujo, 9 – in his own net – 0:1. Robert, 45 – 1:1. Kessie, 90+2 – 2:1.
Barcelona: ter Stegen, Araujo, Kunde, Christensen, Balde, Busquets, Roberto (Kessier, 77), F. de Jong, Rafinha (Ferran Torres, 84), Gavi, Lewandowski.
“Real”: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho (F. Mendy, 62), Camavinga (Tchuameni, 76), Modric (Ceballos, 76), Kroos (Rodrigo, 62), Valverde (Asensio, 76), Vinicius, Benzema.
Warnings: Nacho, 17. Rafinha, 33. Roberto, 65. Modric, 69. Balde, 90. Fati, 90+7. Ceballos, 90+7.