Xavi’s Barcelona silenced the Santiago Bernabeu with a stunning four-goal demolition of Real Madrid in the coach’s first league Clasico.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 20, 2022
Goal after goal in the 4-0 win was greeted by the silence of the home supporters and the sound of around 300 Barcelona supporters celebrating high up in the currently-under reconstruction Bernabeu. The old stadium had not seen Barcelona take a wrecking ball to Real Madrid like this since their coach was out on the pitch under Pep Guardiola.
His plan in his first league clasico was to slow Real Madrid’s inevitable march to the title and make a statement of intent for next season. But Barcelona’s 4-0 win was so emphatic (it could easily have been six or seven) that the victory might even take some of the shine off of Real Madrid’s eventual crowning. Many wonder what might have been if only Barcelona had hired Xavi at the start of the season.
wasn’t just about the coach. His new signings were brilliant once more. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang scored twice taking his tally to nine in 11 games for the club. Ferran Torres tormented Madrid too and was in the goals and assists. And the born-again Dembele more than did his part.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 20, 2022
In fact, when Barcelona opened the scoring on 29 minutes it was a goal from the old Borussia Dortmund playbook. Dembele took Gerard Pique’s pass and skipped past Nacho before crossing to his old Dortmund team-mate Aubameyang who got in front of Militao to head past Thibaut Courtois.
Eight minutes later the lead was doubled and again it was Dembele who made it with a corner whipped into the six-yard box where Ronald Araujo rose between Militao and David Alaba to head home.
It was no more than Barcelona deserved. They had threatened from the start and when Sergio Busquets played the ball inside Dani Carvajal for Ferran Torres to cross for Aubameyang, the former Arsenal forward’s shot was saved from eight yards out by Courtois.
It’s simply incredible how Xavi Hernández has changed Barcelona Football Club in 134 days. It feels completely different, on and off the pitch. ? #FCB
Dressing room atmosphere, tactics, signings, relationship with players & board… and then, this Clásico.
134 days. Chapeau. pic.twitter.com/FaT5Dsd6bv
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 20, 2022
Real Madrid’s best early chance came when Marc Andre ter Stegen had to push Fede Valverde’s shot round the post after he had been set up by Vinicius. The Brazilian winger had gone past Araujo running on to Militao’s brilliant crossfield pass.
Araujo had been picked at right-back ahead of Dani Alves with Xavi believing he was better equipped to deal with Vinicius but he could not stop the winger from creating most of Madrid’s early threat. He had one shot saved by Ter Stegen and went down over the keeper’s dive leaving the German furious that he had tried to win a penalty.
Without Benzema Madrid were banking on Luka Modric and Fede Valverde sharing false nine duties but neither did they manage to unsettle Pique and Eric Garcia, nor did the extra midfielder help the home side control the game.
FC Barcelona are buzzing ??
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 20, 2022
Barcelona carried all the threat with Torres teasing Dani Carvajal and Dembele feasting on Nacho’s awkwardness out of position at left-back, in for the injured Ferland Mendy.
Carlo Ancelotti made two changes at half time bringing on Mariano Diaz and Eduardo Camavinga for Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal but it was 3-0 two minutes into the second half and it could easily have been four. First Torres missed an easy chance shooting wide of Courtois’ goal with Barcelona’s first attack.
Then he made amends by finishing an even better move. Dembele played the ball to Frenkie de Jong and he found Aubameyang who set up Torres to score.
In the 52nd minute, it was four.
This time Torres was the provider and Aubameyang buried his second of the game. Barcelona had to wait to celebrate because the flag was up but they all poured off the visitors bench when the goal was given with substitute Gavi on the pitch in his orange bib jumping up and down with team-mates.
It could have been five when Alba crossed and Aubameyang missed his hat-trick, sliding in and sending his shot wide. Dembele then missed his kick when he was through. And substitute Memphis Depay had a shot saved by Courtois who had been Madrid’s best player in the drubbing.
Madrid will still win the league and have a Champions League quarter-final to look forward to but the mental scars from this will linger… right into next season when Barcelona will believe under Xavi, they can contest the title with Madrid once more.
Courtesy: Daily Mail