Barcelona Resurgence leaves Real Reeling:
The second El Clasico of the La Liga season which was played out at the Spotify Camp Nou on March 19, 2023, marked another chapter in the book of FC Barcelona’s progress under Xavi.
The match was played at the home of the Blaugrana, the visitors Real Madrid came into this fixture being nine points behind the league leaders Barcelona, hoping to cut down the gap to six points to keep their title hopes alive.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have had contrasting league campaigns this season, Barcelona came into this fixture on the back of a good La Liga run having won four of their last five La Liga matches while Real Madrid have had an up-and-down La Liga season so far, the Los Blancos had suffered two draws in their last five La Liga games and trailed the Catalan Club by nine points.
How they Lined Up:
This fixture was a must-win game for Real Madrid who started with a strong eleven that had defeated Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League Round of 16.
Real Madrid lined up on paper in a 4-3-3 formation which changes when the team is in and out of possession, when the team is in possession of the ball it becomes an asymmetrical 4-4-2 or resembles a 4-2-2-2 with Federico Valverde coming inside, while when out of possession they maintain a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 shape.
Barcelona on the other hand have a very specific system of playing with four midfielders, on paper they have a 4-3-3 formation which hardly ever remains a 4-3-3 during the game, during the match they often shift into a structure with 4 midfielders with Gavi coming inside to create a box midfield with Frenkie De Jong and Sergio Busquets acting as the pivots.
The notable absentee in the game for Barcelona was Pedri who got injured in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg against Manchester United.
How the game panned out:
The visitors Real Madrid started the game on the front foot looking to press up high instead of sitting in a mid-block and playing on the counter, Los Blancos played well in the first half and were often able to play through Barcelona’s high press, Vinicius Junior was having a good battle down the left-hand side of the pitch against Ronald Araujo and unsurprisingly it was the visitors who scored the first goal of the match which came from a Vinicius cross which was deflected inside his own net by Ronald Araujo, despite the setback Barcelona remained in the game and looked to circulate the ball patiently, and even created few half chances, eventually, it was Sergi Roberto to whom the ball fell in the 44th minute after a block was made from Raphinha’s shot by the Madrid defence inside the penalty area and Roberto clinically slotted the ball in the right side of the goal and scored.
In the second half, Barcelona was the better of the two sides and created many good chances at the heart of which were more often than not Raphinha and Lewandowski, Lewandowski in particular put up a great display in the second half by way of his clever movements and had a good acrobatic attempt in the 66th minute.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure in an attempt to find the winner, finally, Barcelona’s patience paid off in the final minutes of the second-half as the second half substitute Franck Kessie fired Alejandro Balde’s cross into the goal in the stoppage time to score the winner. Although Barcelona was the better side during the whole match, Real Madrid would feel hard done as VAR denied them a goal from Asensio which he scored in the 81st minute.
What Lies Ahead:
For Barcelona La Liga glory looks all but certain while for Real Madrid Champions League triumph will be the only thing that saves their season, and in the balance hangs the Copa Del Rey title between these two teams.