Real Madrid vs Barcelona - El Clasico

Pre-Match Analysis:

One of the most anticipated football clashes in history, El Clasico is renowned for being one of the most watched football games of the year. Barcelona and Real Madrid undeniably have some of the greatest players in modern day football and with both sides flooded with sheer talent, the two footballing giants are considered as two of the greatest teams of all time. El Clasico is not just considered as a match between two sides, but amongst many as a battle amongst players. Ronaldo and Messi, two players that inspire people all over the world. For years now, debates over which player is better have continued to cause arguments in the footballing world, but no matter which football team you support, or whichever player you prefer, there is no denying that both players are the best at what they do. Real Madrid have managed 71 wins from 170 matches however Barcelona are not far behind with 67 wins. Despite Barcelona being slightly behind on wins, they have managed to win 3 of their last 4 league matches against Real Madrid. With an outstanding total of 546 all-time goals in 170 games, there is no denying that the two sides bring something special to football.

Real Madrid have statically been the greater side in El Clasico with more wins and goals than their rivals, but Barcelona are not far behind. Real Madrid have world class players in all positions the most iconic being their attackers Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. The most expensive players in the world are backed by an extremely powerful midfield with players such as Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, so there is no denying that Real Madrid are capable of controlling play and tearing defences. Real Madrid also have a selection of world class and established defenders. With the likes of Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo and Carvajal, Real Madrid have one of the strongest defence in current football. Goal Keeper Keylor Navas has had a lot to live up to after the sale of veteran keeper Iker Casillas, but has not failed to impress. Real Madrid also have game changing players such as Karim Benzema and Jese Rodriguez so there is no denying that we can expect an excellent display of football from them.

Barcelona, currently first in the league have been on an incredible run of form however, it is undecided whether Lionel Messi will be taking part. Despite this, Barcelona have several other game changing players including Luis Suarez and Neymar. Both players are proven goal scorers and play a key part in their sides attack so whether Messi plays or not, Barcelona have two of the greatest attackers in their team. With midfielders such as Rakitic and Iniesta, Barcelona have two incredible creative midfielders, both capable of causing any defence problems and breaking up play. With a defence consisting of Pique and Mascherano, any opposing attackers will have difficulties coming up against Barca. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is very reliable in goal, so Barcelona have a very safe pair of hands in net. 

Line-Up Analysis: 

Real Madrid Lineup: Keylor Navas, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Danilo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale

Barcelona Lineup: Claudio Bravo, Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Roberto, Andreas Iniesta, Neymar, Luis Suarez. 

Now when you look at both sides starting XI's the main thing you'll notice and be shocked at will be that Messi is not playing. These could totally detriment Barcelona's attacking threat but we doubt that, that would be the case as they still have the highly rated Neymar, who has been in superb form, and Suarez who is probably in the top 3 strikers in Europe currently. In Barcelona's past 8 games the duo have scored 14 goals between them in Messi's absence so the Real Madrid's CB pair will have to be fully alert. 

Barcelona have started a solid back four with the likes of Pique, Mascherano, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba. How unsurprising is that? We've seen these four players again and again neutralise any attacking threat especially in the Barca's triumphant treble season, season. However Real Madrid are starting the likes of Ronaldo, the current holder of the Ballon D'or, Benzema and the worlds most expensive transfer; Gareth Bale. These three make the BBC, one of the most lethal and dangerous attacking three in world football. A surprising addition to the team is Benzema, who amid his sex tape scandal with fellow French player Valbuenna shouldn't be selectable.

There is tremendous amount of reports that Real Madrid are ready to cash in on the now 30 years old Ronaldo. This could be the last el Classico that he plays in and it is a shame that Messi will be missing this due to injury. Maybe after this no more direct comparison of Ronaldo vs Messi?

First Half Analysis

Despite the arguably best player in the world not starting- the first half between these two giants of football did not fail to impress and live up to the historic and iconic El Clasico. It seems fair to say that the first half was completely dominated by Barcelona since the first whistle. Barcelona unsurprisingly started the game by dominating possession with their magnificent passing with Iniesta, Rakitic, Busquets and Sergi Roberto running the show-Madrid however is a side that requires much more than simple passing to beat- Madrid begin to push high and hard pressuring the Barcelona players.

There has been a tradition of one side scoring a goal in the first seven minutes in the last few El Clasico fixtures however in this match this does not seem to be the case- Ronaldo and Neymar seemed very close to continuing the tradition however both players were denied their goals by the opposition’s goalkeepers. Nonetheless the El Clasico would not be the greatest derby in the world if neither teams slotted in a goal in the early minutes of the game- near the 10th minute Sergi Roberto was given a surprisingly large amount of space to roam freely with the ball, with no imminent pressure from Madrid Roberto makes a run to the edge of Madrid’s box and plays a through ball in to Luis Suarez. Luis Suarez given the perfect opportunity uses the outside of his boot to curl the ball into the far corner of the goal making it 1-0. Sergi Roberto has been in tremendous form and is clearly a star for the future- another product of the renowned Barcelona’s youth Academy ‘La Masia’.

The following few minutes we see the trailing Madrid team increasing their attacking game with attempts from James and a scuffed shot from Benzema. It seems that it is just not working for the “Los Blancos”. For a small amount of time it looked like Real Madrid might bring back a comeback but Barcelona did not allow this to happen with their strong and intense pressuring. In some cases however the pressure may be too excessive as shown by Dani Alves grabbing onto Cristiano Ronaldo preventing him too jump and header the ball. Dani Alves was a very frustrating character to watch for any neutral fan due to his numerous diving and over exaggerations to tackles and as a result stopping the game and slowing the tempo of the game

Near the end of the first half it seemed that the game’s tempo had slowed down but Barcelona was still dominating the game- keeping as much possession as possible and when not in possession applying intense pressure. The issue with Real Madrid was that there was not enough support for the attacking player/s and therefore each attack by Madrid was prevented and immediately counter attacked. Eventually the Barcelona pressure seemed too strong- Modric lost possession near the 38th minute and Barcelona capitalised on this mistake. Iniesta received the ball just outside the box and played a spectacular through ball to Neymar cutting the Madrid defence; Neymar the top goal scorer in the La liga easily slotted the ball past Keylor Navas.

The first half ended 2-0 to Barcelona, clearly the absence of Messi has not affected Barcelona at all showing the world why Barcelona is currently the worlds best team dominating the sport. Real Madrid seemed shocked by the events which have occurred in their own stadium and they have a mighty task to accomplish in the second half however there has been some glimpse of hope for Real Madrid with a handful of good chances.     

Second Half Analysis

The teams seemed to stay the same for both sides. This was very surprising for the trailing Madrid side as they would need to change something in order to turn this game around. Barcelona just as the first half begins to settle into the second half by continuing their passing rhythm. The Real Madrid players attempt to intercept and apply high pressure to this very confident Barcelona side. Eventually they intercept the ball and Marcelo was given a very big chance easily skipping past Alves and Pique however he fails to finish and the ball is smashed into the side-netting. Real Madrid had further more chances from James whose shot was saved and from Bale who fires over from an angle.

In the second half you can clearly see that Real Madrid’s recently recovered from injury players Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are still not fully recovered and taking their toll from their injuries. The Real Madrid attacking threat from the past few years has seem to faded along with the dangerous trio BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) it looks like only Modric, Kroos and Cristiano Ronaldo are the ones trying and running around in the game. The Real Madrid defence seems to have been broken in the second half with continuous attacking play from Barcelona. In the 51st minute Sergio Ramos fouls Sergi Roberto just outside the box receiving a yellow card (half way towards receiving his 1000th red card of his career). Neymar strikes the free kick towards the top corner however Keylor Navas just about tips it over for a corner.

Another fast paced attack from Barca the passing is impeccable from the players- the ball is passed from Neymar to Iniesta, Iniesta then returns the ball into the box back to Neymar and makes a run into the box- Neymar backheels the ball back to Iniesta who smashes an absolute screamer into the top corner of the net- no chance for the goalkeeper 3-0 to Barcelona. Game Over. The Santiago Bernabue is left in shock the Barca fans’ cheering and the Real Madrid fans’ booing and jeering can be heard and the Los Blancos fans wave white handkerchiefs as if to signify surrender showing that the match is lost.

Its 3-0 down in the El Clasico, its already a nightmare for the Madrid players what could possibly make it worse- well in the 56th minutes off goes Rakitic and on comes Messi- the top goal scorer in la liga history, the top goal scorer in the El clasico and possibly the best player in the world. He has an immediate impact in the game providing through balls and passes to Suarez and Neymar and the Barcelona team is controlling the game completely.

The Messi impact was clearly shown in the 74th minute where Messi provides a beautiful one touch throughball to Luis Suarez who finishes with ease. The scoreline now 4-0. To make matters worse for Real Madrid in the 84th minute Isco fouls Neymar with no attempt to get the ball resulting in a red card. With 10 men Real Madrid have no way of coming back and the game ends 4-0. One side thrilled with the outcome of the game and the other devastated. This game however is not the title decider and both teams will look forward to the next few games. 

Overall Analysis

On paper both teams looked incredibly even- the 5 most expensive players playing on one pitch seemed like a treat for any football fan and follower. With the absence of Messi in the starting lineup and the recent recovery of Madrid’s Bale and James it even looked like Real Madrid could be favourites for this game. However the recent form of Suarez and Neymar made Barcelona an incredibly difficult obstacle to overcome.

As said before Real Madrid looked like no weak team on paper but clearly shown by the game it rarely matters what’s on paper but how a team performs. As Thierry Henry said ‘It is about the desire and mentality to win the game and for the Madrid players it was just not there’. The Madrid players looked sluggish and tired and gave too much space for Barcelona- there was no pressure or intensity.

However in Barcelona’s case it was completely opposite. Luis Enrique has completely changed Barcelona and the way they play. He has used Guardiola’s tactic of tiki taka but also made amendments to it- because of a lack of pace in defence oppositions could counter easily however now the defence drops deeper and make the midfield more defensive and pressure the opposition to take long balls- this however still does not affect the attacking threat of Barcelona because they have the most dangerous trio in the world (Messi, Neymar, Suarez).

Overall it could clearly be seen that Barcelona work as one whole unit they attack as a team and apply pressure as a team. Madrid on the other hand could not support their attackers and thus less chances could be taken and executed.
Does this game prove that Messi is better than Ronaldo? Or Real Madrid have lost their dominance in football? These answers are still not clear but one thing is for sure- the Galacticos era may have ended and the new era of Barcelona’s dominance may have begun.

This article was written by our guest author: Aarohan


Popular posts from this blog

Manchester United vs Leeds United Match Analysis

Manchester United vs Leeds United Preview

Manchester United vs Leeds United: Player Ratings

Manchester United vs Inter Milan Match Analysis

Perth Glory vs Manchester United Player Ratings

Perth Glory vs Manchester United Match Analysis

Manchester United vs Inter Milan Preview

Dani Ceballos Player Analysis - An alternative to Fernandes and Maddison?

Perth Glory vs Manchester United Preview

The Curious Case of Andreas Pereira