Busy doing nothing – how Real Madrid squandered historical supremacy over Barcelona in four lackadaisical days at the Santiago Bernabeu
For decades, winning a football match at the Santiago Bernabeu was a supernatural event for Barcelona, something only remotely possible due to a number of factors. Sometimes it would be the home team’s quality, powerful and huge cost of the squad; in other cases, the little push provided by questionable ref calls and controversy. At the end of the day, the outcome was always similar: the three points always were safely kept at home.
Enter the Leo Messi era (2005 to date).
Before that milestone, Barça had only won 19% of all their games played behind enemy lines (14 out of 75). Since Messi as been on the team, that percentage has become legendary: 12 wins in 22 games on the opposition’s turf, a whopping 55%. Barça play now at the Bernabeu as if it was their second residence.
Saturday was another turning point in this historic rivalry because Barça finally flipped the all-time winning stats in their favour. It was one of the sauciest points in the game’s preview: an absolute balance between both teams in wins (95) in all competitions. After the match, Barça have won now 96, lost 95 and had 51 draws. They are on top after 87 years of Real Madrid dominance.
Barça are just a better team overall
Stats and numbers only confirm the obvious: that Barça, at least in the face-to-face area, have Real Madrid in their pocket. It’s the fourth Culé win at Bernabeu in five LaLiga seasons. They climb to 60 points, leaving Real trailing with 48: a twelve-point difference with twelve games remaining. It seriously seems impossible that Los Blancos can overcome this humungous hurdle.
In the last 2 weeks – #WeColorFootball & basketball:
?Real Madrid – Barça Lassa (93-94) ☑?
⚽Real Madrid – FC Barcelona (0-3) ☑
?Barça Lassa – Real Madrid (77-70) ☑
⚽Real Madrid – FC Barcelona (0-1) ☑
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 3, 2019
If the Copa del Rey showdown last Wednesday was a tale of impressive effectiveness against the home team hoping and trying to get things done (0-3), this time Real lacked the passion and ambition they showed 72 hours later… and, unfortunately for them, Barça decided that this time they would actually try to show some of their skills.
The result? 25 minutes of utter dominance to kick-off the game both in possession and chances until Ivan Rakitic found a space behind Sergio Ramos to squeeze in and chip the ball over Thibaut Courtois. 0-1 and the fans in the stands were already preparing for the worst.
The fall and fall of Sergio Ramos
Let’s talk Ramos here for a bit. Real Madrid’s captain was a mess throughout the night not only in that play, but also showing us the most disgraceful attitude after a hit to Leo Messi’s face which was totally intentional despite the defender’s claims. While Gerard Piqué completed one of his best all-time performances in the opposition box, Real’s symbol wasn’t even close to peak levels and the home team suffered as a result.
Dembelé was off his game but still provided more sense of danger than Vinicius Junior, a rowdy, persevering guy with a bunch of target practice lessons still to be taken. Karim Benzemà was absent, Tony Kroos didn’t provide us with reasons to believe he’s actually better than Bernd Schuster (yeah, Real players keep getting into banter controversy outside the pitch), Luka Modric tried but he was on his own…
If we are honest, possibly the only player to come out unscathed of both Clasicos this week is Sergio Reguilón: that kid has the heart and attitude to be a Real Madrid player and a starter over Marcelo.
The second half was an exemplary showcase of Barça’s defensive experience (Valverde might have something to do with that) and a test of Real’s incompetence when needing to overturn a negative score. Messi seemed to have some physical issues, so even he shifted gears and was less involved than usual. A shameful VAR call saved Solari’s men against Levante one week earlier, but they had no luck on this occasion. Barça’s second half was as peaceful as it gets.
And with the final whistle, reality struck hard. In 72 hours, Real got KO’ed in the Copa del Rey and virtually out of the LaLiga title race. With three months of competition remaining, the Champions League is (once again) the only possible path to not consider this season a dud.
But this time, unfortunately for the team, Zidane’s lucky charm and Cristiano’s clutch goals are nowhere to be seen.