Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Three major talking points from El Clasico

Jude Bellingham’s brilliance helped Real Madrid snatch all three points from Xavi’s dominant Barcelona in El Clasico.

Barcelona and Real Madrid were both in sensational form heading into El Clasico. The Catalan giants were unbeaten in all competitions, while Los Blancos were top of the league table with just one defeat so far.

Given the recent form of both teams, it was expected to be a closely-fought encounter. But, in reality, it was a match of two halves. The first half belonged to Barcelona without a doubt as they scored very early in the match thanks to Ilkay Gundogan and created numerous chances of making it 2-0 in their favour.

Unfortunately, all they could manage was a goal along with a dominant display where Real Madrid hardly had the ball to trouble their arch-rivals. The second half belonged to Real Madrid. Things started to click for the visitors because of the few substitutions they made.

The team in white managed to push Xavi’s team on the back foot and made it count with the help of Jude Bellingham’s brace. Overall, the Catalan giants were the better team on the day, they created more chances, but they failed to convert those opportunities. And, against a team like Real Madrid, if you don’t take your chances you will have to pay sooner or later.

Bellingham equalised with a long-range banger and followed it up with an injury-time winner to end Barcelona’s unbeaten run and give Carlo Ancelott’s team all three points. The Hard Tackle presents the three major talking points from this fixture.

Luka Modric’s substitution

Things were not really going in Real Madrid’s favour as they were trailing by a goal and were not really able to break down the Barcelona defence. This is when Carlo Ancelotti decided to bring on his 38-year-old maestro Luka Modric.

The Ballon d’Or winner came on in the 63rd minute to replace Toni Kroos, and there was an instant impact. Modric’s arrival changed the pace of the game. He was all over the pitch, and he forced the players in and around to play at a higher tempo.

The Catalan giants were quite happy knocking the ball around and dictating the pace of the game. But, the arrival of Modric changed it all and Xavi was left frustrated on the sidelines. He kept asking his players to slow down the pace of the game. But, the strings were in the hands of Modric and he dictated the pace of this game after coming off the bench.

The fast pace of the game resulted in spaces for the Real Madrid players to run into. And within five minutes of the Croatian’s arrival, Bellingham scored a banger and the 38-year-old was also involved in the injury-time winner. The substitution had a huge say on the result of the game and the veteran Ballon d’Or winner showcased his class yet again.

Gavi vs Bellingham

Heading into the Clasico, Bellingham was Real Madrid’s most important player. He was their main source of goal, and everything seemed to be going through him. Barcelona were well aware of this fact and Xavi gave his teenage sensation Gavi the responsibility to keep the England international in check.

The 19-year-old Spanish international had an exceptional day at the office. He was all over Bellingham. The Real Madrid midfielder never really had enough time to have an impact. He was closed down within seconds of receiving the ball.

Gavi did have the support of those around him, and he surely did an incredible job of keeping the former Borussia Dortmund star quiet. The Spanish international surely won the head-to-head encounter between the two players. But, eventually, Bellingham came out on top.

The 20-year-old England international had little say on how things went in the first half. However, things changed after the arrival of Luka Modric. While the tempo of the game changed, Gavi still had Bellingham in his pocket. But the former Borussia Dortmund star got a bit more space than before, which was just good enough for him to decide the faith of this fixture.

Around the 68th minute, the ball fell into his path and he smashed it into the top right corner from 30 yards out. The 20-year-old scored the winner in injury time. He made a late run into the box, the ball fell into his path after taking a touch from Modric and slotted it home to win the game.

Barcelona’s dominant display

While the stats might suggest that it was an evenly contested game, the reality is that Barcelona were the dominant team for the majority of the time. They might have lost but there were a lot of positives for the home team.

The Catalan giants dominated the ball and were very hard to break down. Los Blancos took a total of 13 shots at goal, but the majority of those came from out of the box. They never really created clear-cut chances.

The first goal was a long-range banger, and the defence was never really at fault. And, as far as the second goal is concerned, a poor touch from Modric resulted in the ball bouncing over Iñigo Martinez and falling into the path of Bellingham right in front of the six-yard box.

The home team’s dominance of the ball, a rock-solid defence and a free-flowing attack are signs of great things to come. Because, in reality, Xavi did not have his best XI on the field. Quite a few of his star players are out injured and a few of them made their return from injury in this outing against the Merengues.

Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha returned to action against Real Madrid and Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Jules Kounde will soon be back in the mix. Their return will make the Catalan giants a much more dangerous team.

Their youngsters are stepping up big time, and it only helps as they now have the much-needed depth to compete for major titles. It was an impressive performance by Barcelona in the Clasico without a few of their key first-team players and when they are back in the mix, they will surely look to avenge this loss in the reverse fixture.

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