Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Match Review
Real Madrid travelled to Catalonia to take on arch-rivals Barcelona in a high-stakes game on Sunday. The Merengues had the chance to cut short their deficit with the league leaders to six points on the night, and nothing less than a win would be seen as a success.
Carlo Ancelotti deployed a defence of Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez on the night to defend Thibaut Courtois’ goal.
Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga and Luka Modric started in the middle of the park with Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr and Federico Valverde completing the lineup in the attack.
The first half at Spotify Camp Nou was a queer one for Real Madrid. At no stage in the 45 minutes did the visitors appear to be completely dominating their opponents, yet, there was seldom a moment when they seemed out of the game.
In fact, it was Ancelotti’s men who created the first big chance of the night in the first minute. Neatly playing through Barcelona’s left flank, Real Madrid found Karim Benzema in a good position but the Frenchman was denied by Marc Andre Ter Stegen.
Real Madrid soon found themselves under pressure with Robert Lewandowski, Sergi Roberto and Raphinha winning concrete chances to score at the other end. Yet, the first goal of the night saw the men in white celebrate voraciously at their opponents’ den.
The play leading to the goal began with Los Blancos finding Vinicius Jr on the left wing. The Brazilian protege moved wide to the touchline and attempted a flick into the box to find a teammate.
The ball fell straight to Ronald Araujo and took a deflection past Ter Stegen to gift Real Madrid an own-goal and the lead at Camp Nou.
The Merengues immediately tightened up defensively and the plan appeared to be to hold onto the one-goal lead at any cost. Barcelona’s attacks increased in amplitude and intensity but the visitors always appeared reassured in defence.
Barcelona’s Christensen saw two chances wasted in less than ten minutes as he skewed a header wide and then played a poor flick to Courtois.
After over 30 minutes of strong, calm and resilient defending, Real Madrid lost the plot in the final minute of the half. The Merengues were all over the place for Barcelona’s equaliser and it is difficult to argue against the supposition that it was inevitable.
After a patient buildup, Barcelona’s Raphinha missed the ball with his swinging foot. The ball was recycled into the Real Madrid area where the Brazilian took a shot on goal. Camavinga blocked the initial attempt but there was nothing the Merengues could do about the follow-up shot from Roberto.
Real Madrid walked into the tunnel at half-time with the score at 1-1 but with despair over the last-minute equaliser conceded.
Barcelona began the second half on a good note with Raphinha coming very close to scoring their second of the night. However, Nacho was there to make an important deflection.
Ancelotti’s men then saw a strong period on the counter with Modric, Benzema and Vinicius creating threats in the box. Yet, it all led to nothing.
Rodrygo Goes and Ferland Mendy came on for Toni Kroos and Nacho Fernandez. Almost immediately after coming on, the Brazilian youngster skied an incredible chance.
Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric and Fede Valverde came off for Aurelien Tchouameni, Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio in the 76th minute.
Real Madrid played a perfect counterattack and beat Ter Stegen through smart placement by Marco Asensio but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Benzema and Vinicius had their shots blocked in the 86th minute after a perfect counterattack routine. Real Madrid were again on the front foot and dominating the game for the first time on the night.
Barcelona took the lead in extra time through some good link-up play between Lewy, Balde and Kessie who completely undid the Merengues’ defence.
Real Madrid let a one-goal lead slip away on the night and dropped all three points at Spotify Camo Nou. They now go twelve points behind Xavi’s side and must return to the stadium for another Clasico in less than two weeks.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place
Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.
The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.
Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.
1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?
The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.
An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.
The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.
Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.
In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.
It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.
2. A day of farewells
Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.
Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.
With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.
The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.
Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.
3. A tight race for second place
There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.
Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.
Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.
With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.