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Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Match Review

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

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.

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Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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