El Clasico (highlights here) has yet again proved that modern football is turning out to be quite a leveler and unpredictable in many regards. A Europa League team has just made a joke out of probable La Liga winners this season. Real Madrid carrying the favorites tag prior to the match were exposed in an unprecedented way in terms of the manager and their unambitious transfer window sagas for a long time. No backup for Benzema, No backup for injury prone Ferland Mendy, clinging on injury prone and past the prime days Dani Carvajal, lacklustered right wing and on the top of those a stubborn & unclear manager. This was a humiliation which would’ve been even more frightening had Thibaut Courtois not stood up like he does majority of the times and Barcelona not fluffing two clear cut easy chances.
El Clasico lost, but who’s to be blamed ?
But who’s the most to blame for tonight’s El Clasico catastrophe ? Answer has to be the manager Carlo Ancelotti. The 1st half performance shown by the team was like a School Level Football Team. The snub of Karim Benzema cannot halt a top club’s performance in such a way but it did. There was no formation and execution. All of the 6 outfield players barring the back 4 were playing the free role up front the pitch with Kroos and Modric, the usual mids leading the pressing line. Ancelotti played a double pivot which gave Barcelona midfield of 3 numeric advantage and they made full use of it, overly pressing Real Madrid and creating crisp chances due to sharp passing. Dembele whistled his way through Nacho and made a beautiful cross for 1st Goal. While during the 2nd goal the typical Real Madrid weakness of unable to deal with Aerial threat got exposed which has been there since Sergio Ramos left. After 1st half Carlo seemed to realize his mistake as he brought in Camavinga and a proper striker in Mariano but his change to back 3 and then again Back 4 within a span of 2 minutes showed his lack of belief on his game tactics. Carlo changed the fine working 4-3-3 formation to somewhat 4-2-2-2 and paid a heavy price for it. This could’ve been easily prevented as Real Madrid had talented players to play as a False 9 in Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard which would’ve not changed their usual formation. But the 2 players were not even given the chance due to stubborn manager. Management’s failure of Transfer Windows since 4 long years also contributed to this as Real Madrid failed to perform due to their narrow bench strength with no proper striker or fullback backups in the squad.
Xavi Hernandez – The Fairytale of Barcelona
On the other hand the January transfer window and appointment of Xavi have come in like “Paradise” for troubling Barcelona who hit an all time low in 1st half of this season especially due to relegating to Europa League. But the transfers of Aubameyang and Ferran Torres have completely changed the scenario of the team. Xavi backed his possession based high pressing tactics in El Clasico and credits to Carlo here in as well but Xavi was phenomenal with his moves.
His plan to play in Ronald Araujo as a Right Back instead of Dani Alves was spot on. He did so to nullify the counter attacking threat that Real Madrid possess on Left with Vinicius Junior. As a result Vini failed to create any mark whatsoever on the left flank. Araujo also a tall, physical presence for set pieces punished Real Madrid and showed their incompetency of winning Aerial Duels. Xavi, a big fan of Ousmane Dembele had backed him since his arrival and gave him regular chances. Dembele proved his worth yesterday as he absolutely wrecked havoc on the right side, testing Nacho every minute in the first half and assisting the 1st two of Barcelona’s goals. In 3 months of 2022 the French Winger has scored 2 goals and created 7 in the process. Xavi deserves credit for turning the tides of this once at depletion Barca squad completely who now look favorites to walk their way past through Europa League.
What’s next for Real Madrid ?
Real Madrid on the other hand will hope that Karim Benzema returns as soon as possible and they shift back to a 4-3-3 with Valverde and Camavinga provided more play time. The two workhorses of Real Madrid have looked impressive every time they’ve stepped foot on the pitch. Despite of yesterday’s loss Real Madrid are almost on finish line of lifting the League Trophy as they’re 9 points clear with 9 games to go but the loss should be an eye opener as a heavy summer transfer window is needed with ramifications in most departments and getting rid of players that aren’t a part of Manager’s plans.