Home Football Barcelona were brilliant, Real Madrid must regroup after Clasico that defied expectations

Barcelona were brilliant, Real Madrid must regroup after Clasico that defied expectations


It doesn’t matter what you learn or hear elsewhere, it is a undeniable fact that Real Madrid didn’t lose this Clasico, during which they had been totally thrashed, “as a result of Karim Benzema was out.” Do not settle for that: It is glib, it hides some key truths and it’s a little typical of the trendy obsession with one-phrase evaluation.

As well-planned, well-coached and as scintillatingly efficient as Xavi’s Barcelona had been in successful 4-0, a scoreline that might have been 8-0, Spain‘s champions-elect had been actually terrible individually and collectively. It begins with the teaching crew themselves.

Carlo Ancelotti is not simply an old-school gentleman and a blessing in Spanish soccer: He is a gifted, high-achieving and intensely intelligent man-manager who, barring one thing totally horrendous taking place, will accumulate 17 factors or extra in his subsequent 9 La Liga matches accountable for Madrid and turn out to be the primary man to win the title in every of Europe’s massive 5 leagues.

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Seventeen factors is the whole, I am arguing, as a result of in an effort to even power Madrid to wish that many in an effort to elevate the Spanish title, Barcelona would wish to take 28 out of their subsequent 30 obtainable factors — a ridiculously massive ask. If Xavi’s reborn Blaugrana military gained 9 and drew considered one of their final 10 fixtures, it will be an immense achievement — and would take them to 82 factors. Los Blancos have already got 66 factors within the bag; to succeed in 83 (and keep away from occurring the head-to-head scores between the golf equipment this season), they’d want simply 17 factors from their remaining 9 matches.

Now, if both Thibaut Courtois or Benzema had been out of the blue absent for a protracted spell — one thing anybody with a love of soccer should pray does not occur — then the vista would change. Apart from that, it is brutally arduous to think about Ancelotti not bringing Madrid the title that (proper now) they totally deserve. Nonetheless, provided that you have not been listening to Florentino Perez over the previous 22 years, are you able to simply think about Ancelotti’s continuity at hanging by the slenderest of threads.

The final time a Madrid facet misplaced a house Clasico 4-0, the supervisor (Rafa Benitez) was given six extra LaLiga matches after which, after a draw at Valencia, was sacked. The final time a Madrid facet performed with this lethargy, lack of consideration to element or lack of aggressive spirit was in Paris a month in the past.

I believed then, and nonetheless assume now, that Ancelotti acquired the equal of a yellow card from his employer than night time. Defeat, even for Madrid, is an inevitable occasional incidence. Defeat with out character, the place the show is impoverished, which embarrasses the President — that is a completely totally different matter.

Let me state right here and now that this evaluation is judging how Florentino Perez thinks and acts. By any regular (learn: “old-school”) requirements, the ultimate 12 months of Ancelotti’s contract needs to be fairly protected if he follows a trophy-less season (underneath Zinedine Zidane) with a league and Tremendous Cup double, which appears extraordinarily probably. (It bears noting Fabio Capello was sacked in 2009 after successful the league, whereas Jupp Heynckes met the same destiny in 1998 after successful the Champions League.)

The previous few coaches at Santiago Bernabeu have been hamstrung by just a few components. For instance, President Perez’s want to stash monetary reserves away and never spend excessively in an effort to signal Kylian Mbappe — and fairly understandably, too. There’s additionally the huge funding in renewing the Santiago Bernabeu till it turns into the world’s biggest soccer stadium. And by the “force majeure” of a pandemic and its financial influence on spectator sport. All of which is to say that Madrid’s squad hasn’t been rejuvenated, renewed and upgraded in sure areas to the mandatory diploma.

So, had been Ancelotti to complete this season with two trophies and, say, a Champions League semifinal, he needs to be awarded a laurel wreath for his head and referred to as a hero. Nevertheless it’ll shock me if this Clasico humiliation, the house defeat to FC Sheriff and the away loss in Paris do not start a technique of Florentino Perez and his praetorian guard trying round to discover a alternative for the Italian … simply in case.

Sunday night time’s proof does him no favours in anyway.

Barcelona did not merely arrive in good type, with tempo and youthful vigour; they got here to city with a crystal-clear recreation plan, with the arrogance that Benzema lacking was a giant enhance. They got here to go toe-to-toe.

Ancelotti’s concepts about how to deal with Benzema’s absence had their roots within the Barcelona of his recollections — the one his crew defeated so simply at Camp Nou within the Autumn and the one which, through rope-a-dope counter-attacks, they beat within the Supercopa semifinal in January. His concepts had been primarily based on a Barcelona that might be hustled, bullied and robbed of possession, the place Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was an Achilles’ heel and the place the Catalan membership had been glass-chinned and unsure of themselves.

An inexpensive tactical concept, although wrongly utilized; Barcelona have not been enjoying like that for some weeks now.

The place was the scouting? Who had the counter-voices in Ancelotti’s crew saying “right bet at the wrong time, boss!?” If he thought that the exertions of Barcelona successful in Istanbul, flying again drained, however jubilant, and the shortage of significant coaching time between beating Galatasaray and dealing with a Clasico may add power to his tactical plan, then honest sufficient. However he obtained it mistaken.



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For these of you who’re solely studying concerning the Clasico and did not watch this magical match, here is what Ancelotti tried to do.

Ancelotti needed Vinicius, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde to buzz round Ter Stegen, Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos excessive up the pitch because the second line of press ready to choose up the merest scraps of possession gained by Barcelona’s fallibility. Ancelotti then needed the latter pair — two good, ruthless males — to make use of Barcelona’s cheaply misplaced possession to smash them with a collection of fast passes within the final third of the pitch whereas Xavi’s crew had been caught unawares.

Not solely did not that work, however Madrid’s press was largely made to appear to be what it’s, a current idea and a weekend-DIY challenge somewhat than professional and industrially sturdy. Kroos and Modric had been bypassed again and again, which left Barcelona with vastly superior numbers in midfield and free to mount exact, damaging attacking cross after cross.

When Ancelotti modified issues halfway by means of the half, it helped a bit: Modric was again in deep midfield to supply extra management, Casemiro supported him, they usually tried to play on the counter somewhat than use their badly executed, ill-designed press. However there was a direct disaster, and one neither Ancelotti nor the absent Benzema have something to do with.

Earlier than Araujo successfully kills the sport along with his header for 2-0, you simply want to take a look at the schoolboy state (sorry to schoolboys in every single place) of Madrid’s preparation for the killer nook. Vinicius and Madrid had been futilely arguing with the referee on the sting of their very own field, no one listening to Araujo. Neither Eder Militao nor David Alaba mark the Uruguayan so, remarkably, the most effective header of the ball within the Barcelona squad, the No. 1 hazard from the guests at any attacking set play is left free, and I imply utterly free, to move previous Thibaut Courtois.

It was in all probability the simplest aim this ex-striker who goals of, sooner or later, returning to play up entrance, will ever rating. For those who watch carefully, you may see Modric complain that Araujo bumps the Croat’s outstretched hand as he runs previous him — a hand outstretched as a result of he is nonetheless berating referee Martinez Munuera whereas the nook is being taken.

Ancelotti: Clasico thrashing “all my fault”

Modric is Ancelotti’s head lieutenant, the embodiment of expertise assembly gritty winner-mentality. However right here, he is behaving as if it is a Sunday afternoon kick-about on the seashore. What, I would argue, has that aberration of behaviour from Madrid’s best participant to do with Benzema’s absence? And the way is that Ancelotti’s fault?

This sort of factor was taking place everywhere in the pitch. Militao had, by far, his worst efficiency of the final two seasons, an evening riddled with errors. As for Dani Carvajal? Effectively, there Ancelotti bears some blame. The Spain worldwide hasn’t performed properly for weeks — error-prone, responsible of freely giving possession, freely giving penalties. He should not have began the match — type demanded that. Ancelotti obtained the choice mistaken.

He obtained extra mistaken at half-time, too. The thought of going to 3 on the again, permitting an already totally rampant Barcelona assault to go one-on-one in opposition to an improvised line of Nacho, Militao and Alaba was rampant folly. It was the “all-in” gesture of somebody who’s misplaced closely and thinks one closing, big gamble may flip the night time his approach. Spectacular once they come off — horrible in any other case.

Eduardo Camavinga, on at half-time, copied his elders and betters by, inside a few minutes, gifting the ball away cheaply then being robbed, simply, by Frenkie De Jong to create the third aim. Casemiro wanders again, wholly uncompetitive, un-athletic, for the fourth aim, however makes a wholesome job of arguing with the referee over whether or not Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second aim ought to or should not stand. Priorities, Casemiro, priorities.

Ancelotti had a horrible night time. One for which, I concern, he’ll pay closely. Benzema, with Courtois and Modric, is that this crew’s chief, and he is enjoying like a footballing god proper now. However his absence neither wanted Madrid’s Italian supervisor to invent a 4-1-4-1 formation that the crew weren’t able to impose, nor to out of the blue threat a 3-5-2 formation when the slightest error on the again can be deadly. Nor ought to Benzema’s absence have precipitated the overwhelming majority of Madrid’s gamers to show in low-grade, lazy, haphazard, listless performances in a Clasico.

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Barcelona had been totally devastating. Clear about their duties, personally and tactically, driving on a vapour cloud of confidence having lately put 4 objectives previous Atletico, Valencia, Athletic and Napoli, bristling with persona and verve. It was sufficient for Bayern’s Thomas Muller to tweet “Congrats FC Barcelona. It was a pleasure to watch this amazing performance tonight. Chapeau.” That is fairly exceptional in itself, however I will depart you with a few ideas.

Ferland Mendy barely will get a point out, however his presence — quick, match, sturdy, intelligent, technically expert — was massively missed. The truth is, it at all times is. For some cause, Perez is not Mendy’s No.1 admirer, however I feel that is an enormous misjudgement. Mendy performs at a excessive degree whereas Vinicius, forward of him, and Alaba, simply inside him, are much better and extra impactful when the Frenchman is within the XI.

Secondly: This can be a well timed warning to Madrid that they want a direct reset. Chelsea are usually not soft-bellied like PSG. Man for man, Los Blancos can assume themselves higher outfitted than the European champions, however provided that each man is on about 10 instances higher type than this. How can they obtain that over the worldwide break?

Additionally, these of us who warned that there can be a really excessive price of Ancelotti relentlessly enjoying Modric-Casemiro-Kroos week after week within the center a part of the season was tempting, however carried a probably catastrophic price ticket, is likely to be about to be confirmed right.

Lastly, Barcelona: Simply watch them. That, as we noticed on Sunday night time, is the way you play soccer.

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