Barcelona vs real madrid

Real Madrid secured a fifth win against eternal rivals Barcelona from the last six meetings in La Liga as the Culers suffered another setback in the first El Clásico of the 2022-23 season.

Once again, the result and performance showed Xavi Hernandez’s talented side still have some way to go after they were downed 3-1 courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema (on the eve of picking up his first Ballon d’Or), Federico Valverde and Rodrygo, despite a Ferran Torres consolation goal threatening a fightback at 2-1 late on. 

Indeed, the 4-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu earlier this year is already a distant memory and proved an anomaly in recent times as Barca have failed to match their rivals on and off the pitch. 

The Blaugrana came into the Clásico atop the La Liga table with the best attack (20 goals scored) and best defence (one goal conceded), but that was perhaps due to the quality of the opposition with six of their seven wins coming against sides in the bottom half.

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On Sunday evening, Los Blancos won the midfield battle with the trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Aurelien Tchouameni controlling proceedings which eventually proved the difference.

Catalan Blues 

The win puts Real Madrid three points clear of Barcelona to end a horrible week following their dramatic 3-3 draw with Inter Milan left them hanging by a thread in the Champions League group.

For Xavi, this was the first away league defeat after almost a year in charge of Barcelona. The club took a huge gamble last summer by spending a lot of future earnings on big signings whom they hoped would bring instant success, however, they now face early elimination from the Champions League and showed they are still behind their main domestic rivals.

xavi hernandez

Nevertheless, this is only their first league defeat of the season but they conceded three goals in Madrid having conceded only once beforehand in the entire league season. 

Xavi now has a record of 28 wins, 11 draws and 11 defeats in his first 50 games in charge which is the worst of all the Barcelona coaches with at least 50 games. 

After reinforcing the team with a spend of over €158 million last summer, this is becoming an uncomfortable situation for the club, head coach and fans. 

Centre-back Jules Kounde expressed the team’s disappointment and pointed out where he felt they were lacking defensively against Madrid.

“We are really disappointed. I don’t think we played badly but in the first half we made mistakes in the transitions and in the areas where Real Madrid are strongest,” 

“We should have made the foul to avoid the first goal and the second is the same. That’s the strength of Madrid. Two chances, two goals. We have to learn that.”

Barca’s Balancing Act

It has been made clear that Barcelona cannot compete with the best teams in Europe until they improve their defensive structure off the ball and cut out individual errors. 

It would appear that Barcelona lacked intensity against Los Blancos but it was rather inexperience and maturity. While Xavi’s men dominated the ball with 57% possession, they looked extremely slow and bereft of ideas until late in the second half. 

This tardiness played directly into Madrid’s hands as Vinícius Júnior and Federico Valverde ran the Blaugranas ragged on the break.

Carlo Ancelotti’s team were typically ruthless in seizing the key moments and converting their chances.

Elsewhere, Robert Lewandowski missed a glorious chance on Sunday despite a brilliant record of 14 goals (more than any Barca player managed last season) in just 13 games. Nevertheless, he remains in Benzema’s shadow for now regarding the better striker in El Clasico.

As such, the Catalans have a lot of catching up to do whilst ensuring they stay financially viable. Just be sure they won’t be agreeing to any more partnerships involving Canadian rapper Drake. 

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
October 17, 2022
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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