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El Clásico Immediate Reaction: Barcelona Femení 4 - 1 Real Madrid Femenino

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Real Madrid go down fighting with an Olga Carmona consolation penalty.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Primera Iberdrola Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Real Madrid Femenino lost to FC Barcelona Femení in decisive fashion but performed significantly better than last time out. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match pod to follow, at minimum.

  • David Aznar threw a curveball Zizou-style, going for a 4-4-2 diamond while dropping Kosovare Asllani and playing wingers Sofia Jakobsson and Marta Cardona up top. It was also a bit of a surprise to see Real Madrid press high — something that has not been common this season. Barcelona didn’t seem to be expecting it, as they looked taken aback by the aggressiveness of the opposition’s approach and coughed up possession a handful of times in the first forty-five minutes. Aznar’s general scheme was solid; pressing from the diamond shape and going player-to-player in order to access every midfield option. Decisive switches are the way to exploit this, but Madrid were mostly good about quickly shifting to the other side, though it did come with territorial loss.
  • The game plan did a good job of limiting Barca from an overwhelming presence in the final third and a large volume of shots and, yet, La Blaugrana ended the half 3-0 up. The efficiency of the home side was simply brutal. In the 14th minute, Alexia cut inside from the right and curled a shot off of Misa’s hands and into the top corner from the edge of the box.
  • In the 23rd and 37th minutes, Barca were able to get free down the left and right flanks, respectively, thanks to individual errors, leading to tap-ins for Jennifer Hermoso and Asisat Oshoala. Madrid only made a few serious mistakes in the first half and every single one of them was punished severely.
  • Real Madrid looked promising on the ball throughout the first period. The diamond gave them the numerical superiority in midfield against Barcelona’s flat 4-4-2 pressing scheme, allowing Las Blancas a level of comfort against the press that arguably hasn’t been seen all season. There were still giveaways, but Barca became more and more nervous to go gung-ho, with Jenni Hermoso and co. constantly checking over their shoulder in fear of CAM Teresa Abelleira dropping completely untracked to provide an outlet.
  • The issue had more to do with what Madrid did when they got into the middle third. There didn’t seem to be a clear idea of how to get Sofia and Cardona on the ball in dangerous areas, and the two’s positioning up top wasn’t ideal. Both gradually moved wider and wider as the game drew on, eventually leaving the channels unoccupied — and, thus, Barca’s center backs unthreatened — and the duo disconnected.
  • The 2nd half was more subdued. Barcelona were content to pick their moments and watch the opposition possess the ball. For their part, Madrid didn’t seem to come out of the tunnel with a new or more effective way of playing. Maite would evade the pressure and get the ball into midfield, upon which Real would play it out wide and lose possession trying to force a telegraphed ball down the line to Sofia Jakobsson or Marta Cardona (mostly to the former). Rinse, repeat.
  • In the 54th minute, Patri Guijarro made a good run down the right on a counter-attack and played a cutback that deflected off of Babett Peter and onto Oshoala’s chest. Thankfully, the shot ricocheted off the bar.
  • Madrid weren’t so lucky 16 minutes later, when a Barcelona switch caught a tired press off guard. Torrejón was played into the box and, though her cross was initially dealt with, Ivana’s failed clearance rebounded off of Oshoala and into goal to make it 4-0.
  • Things got worse from there. Misa got herself sent off when she came way off her line and saved Oshoala’s shot outside the box. Aznar subbed on Corredera for Maite Oroz and goalkeeper Yohana for Teresa Abelleira to see out the rest of the game.
  • The consolation goal came in the 81st minute. After a sustained spell of possession, Peter played Jakobsson in over the top and the Swede went down in the box under Mapi Léon’s challenge. The center back was sent off for a second yellow before Olga Carmona coolly converted from the spot and gave Real Madrid one back.
  • This is a heavy loss, but make no mistake — this is a vastly improved performance from the last Clásico. The mentality was totally different (high pressing vs. receding into a shell) and there were fleeting moments where Las Blancas looked like they could trouble their rivals while the result was still in balance.