Real Madrid breeze past tame Barcelona to go top of La Liga

(Football news) Real Madrid comfortably defeated Barcelona 3-1 in the El Clasico. As a result Los Blancos went to the top of the La Liga table and more importantly got bragging rights. The victory meant that Madrid have now won 5 lost 1 and drawn 1 of their last 7 El Clasicos. The win column is getting more and more unbalanced as Real Madrid now have 101 El Clasico wins compared to Barcelona's 97 in official matches. Thibaut Courtois couldn't pass the fitness test in time which is why Andriy Lunin started in goal while Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger started on the bench. Xavi decided to bench Gerard Pique in favour of Jules Kounde who recovered just in time. Alex Balde was preferred to Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba at left back. Gavi started on the bench while Frenkie De Jong got a rare start. 

Real Madrid had control for the majority of the game as Barcelona never looked dangerous. The possession stats were fairly balanced as the Blaugrana had 57% of the ball. The Merengues were much more direct and efficient as they scored 3 goals with their 4 shots on target. It took Real Madrid only 12 minutes to take the lead via Karim Benzema who scored from the rebound of Vinicius Jr's shot. 23 minutes later, Ferland Mendy set up Fede Valverde whose shot into the bottom left corner was too powerful and accurate for Marc Andre Ter Stegen to stop. Real went a little deep after taking a two goal lead and allowed Barcelona to dictate play. Barcelona did finally pull a goal back in the 83rd minute as substitutes Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres combined to score. It was too little too late as the match was put to bed after Rodrygo won and scored a penalty in injury time.

Fede Valverde was named Man of the Match for his incredible all-round performance once again. The Uruguayan is continuing to light the big stage on fire and that too at right wing which self admittedly is not his prefered position. Toni Kroos absolutely dominated the midfield in what was one of his best performances in recent times. In both attack and defence the German maestro was absolutely impeccable. Vinicius Jr had another impactful outing as he caused havoc on the right wing. He was involved in both the goals and played a part defensively as well. Karim Benzema ended his 5 game goalless streak 1 day before he is likely to receive the Ballon D'or. 

Real Madrid's defence was pretty solid as Barcelona couldn't create many clear cut chances. Ancelotti in his post match press conference revealed that he had asked Eder Militao to be aggressive on Robert Lewandowski. The Brazilian did exactly that and didn't give Lewandowski any room whatsoever. The one time Lewandowski did have space is when he missed an open goal from close range. The Polish striker will be disappointed with his performance even though it was his flick that set up Barcelona's only goal. He couldn't get involved in the game as much as he would've wanted. Pedri and Frenkie De Jong had a decent game but didn't get much help from the wide areas. 

One tactical blunder Xavi made is that he played Raphinha on the right wing and Ousmane Dembele on the left. Both the players prefer to play on the right but Dembele being the better player should've played there. After Raphinha's substitution, Dembele switched to the right for 13 minutes before going off and had more impact then Raphinha had in 60 minutes. Barcelona will be looking to bounce after a disappointing week as they will host Villarreal on Thursday. Real Madrid on the other hand will hope to keep the momentum going in their away fixture against Elche.

Also read: Real Madrid interested in Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies


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