Here’s our quick reaction to a goalless Clasico. Still to come: Player ratings, tactical review, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and more.
In the 65th minute of tonight’s Clasico, it was brought my attention that Real Madrid had outshot Barcelona 13 - 2 until that point. Real Madrid had a lot of efforts tonight at the Camp Nou, and controlled possession for large stretches — doing well to win the ball back on plenty of occasions when they lost it.
When I saw that initial stat, a quick check told me eight of Real Madrid’s shots were from outside the box. And maybe that was the caveat: For all the good that Zidane’s men had done until that point, their chances weren’t as clear cut.
But maybe that’s unfair. Zidane’s men did a lot of good things today, and created a good number of opportunities, including a lot of chaos, which Barcelona had trouble coping with. Shortly after that stat came up, Bale had a good chance on the left side of the box which saw him hit the side netting. Minutes later, he had a goal disallowed for offside.
With Casemiro and Valverde doing good defensive work, and Isco and Benzema in particular linking up well in transition, there was a sense of control that Zidane’s men had. There were even a few good waves of counter-pressing followed by umpteen corners. And then there were the corners that weren’t corners: Every time Real Madrid had a throw-in high up the pitch, Ramos and Varane would sprint into the box to try and meet a Gareth Bale long heave.
Still, it wasn’t completely settling. Lionel Messi single-handedly broke Real Madrid’s defensive line three times in that half. Anytime he looked up to play that famous diagonal ball to Alba, it was unstoppable — despite everyone in a white shirt knowing it was coming. In one sequence in particular, Sergi Roberto sprinted from a defensive position into the box on a counter attack and gave Real Madrid all kinds of disarray. Luckily Courtois intercepted the play.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen did this thing that was way too easy: Almost every time he had a goal-kick in the first half, he slung a low-driven ball down the middle which bypassed everyone.
So basically the gist was this: Real Madrid played well, but Barcelona were also capable of scoring in any moment. It was good, but also uneasy.
- Varane was man-handled in the first half by fouls that weren’t called. Lenglet stamped his cleat on Varane’s thigh in the box before Rakitic pulled his shirt down in the area shortly after. On another instance, he out-leapt Alba at the far post, and Alba — as always — took exception to being physically dominated, and brushed his hand on Varane’s face for no particular reason.
- Isco was visibly out of gas with about half-hour to go, but he had a really nice game connecting the midfield and attack. It wasn’t quite a free role, which we’ll discuss on tonight’s podcast in a bit more detail.
- Casemiro was pretty great on both ends of the field. He had one errant pass under pressure, which eventually led to him taking a yellow card, but other than that his passing in tight spaces was really conducive to the team’s build-up.
- You can always trust Fede to win every loose ball, but his transition passing was a bit raw tonight.
- A very hard-working shift from Bale on both ends. Some great defensive moments in the second half in particular. Had some bad luck (offside goal + the shot that hit the side-netting, he should’ve gotten the ball quicker from Fede when he was in a better position). Also had a couple really nice vertical passes to Isco and some dangerous crosses.
- Mendy was good defensively, but was the least-comfortable when being pressured. His crossing didn’t amount to anything. Marcelo helps the offense in a game like this, but would’ve sacrificed some defensive security, especially without a clear left-wing presence defensively against Messi.
We’ll break this down a lot further on tonight’s upcoming podcast (and other coverage coming your way tonight). Make sure you have access to tonight’s Patron show: Patreon.com/ManagingMadrid.