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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s Clásico win

The taking points from the Camp Nou victory.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Santander Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Real Madrid have won the first Clásico of the 2021/22 season, edging a thrilling battle at the Camp Nou 2-1. David Alaba produced a stunning first goal for the club, before Lucas Vázquez added a second to make Sergio Agüero’s late effort redundant. It was a fun one and it was a Clásico with many talking points. Here, we go through some of them in the form of three questions that were answered and three new ones that produced.

Three answers

1. Could Real Madrid make history at the Camp Nou?

Real Madrid travelled to Catalonia with the chance to make history, in various different senses. For Carlo Ancelotti, he had never won at the Camp Nou in his long coaching career as he had lost three times and drawn twice there. Now, he has savoured his first victory at the ground and you could tell he enjoyed it. Real Madrid as a club have made some history too, with this their fourth consecutive Clásico victory. Not since a run of wins that ended in 1965 had Los Blancos defeated their rivals four times in a row.

2. Who’d take the right-back spot?

In terms of the starting line-up, the big question mark for Real Madrid was at right-back. Dani Carvajal wasn’t going to be ready to start, so it was either going to be Lucas Vázquez, Nacho or Fede Valverde on the right of defence. In the end, it was Lucas who was given the job. Considering it was Rodrygo on the right wing, this was a little surprising when you remember this quote from Ancelotti from earlier in the season. He’d said: “When you have a winger like Rodrygo, you don’t need a right-back who gets forward. You need one who stays in position. That has hurt Lucas, for example, when the winger has been Rodrygo. If I need a right-back who can also go forward, then Lucas is a better option for that.” Despite the coach explaining why Rodrygo and Lucas don’t make as much sense together, it really worked today. Lucas was disciplined in defence, while Rodrygo helped out at times too. Then both these players were involved in the goals, with Rodrygo playing the pass to Alaba and Lucas obviously getting the second.

3. Vinícius or Ansu Fati?

El Clásico is no longer Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi. But, Vinícius vs Ansu Fati looks like it could be the duel of the future. This was only their third head-to-head battle, but this was the first Clásico with both players in such important roles for their teams. This was going to be a fascinating duel and both players can make the claim that they were their sides’ attacking leaders. This wasn’t Benzema’s day, whereas Vinícius was so dangerous on the left and turned Óscar Mingueza inside and out so many times that Koeman didn’t let Mingueza return for the second half. While Memphis started well, it was Ansu Fati who led Barcelona’s search for an equaliser until he was taken off in the 74th minute, an understandable decision given the injury but one the home fans didn’t like at all. This was an enjoyable Vinícius vs Ansu Fati duel. Many many more are set to follow.

Three questions

1. When was the last Clásico debut as good as Alaba’s?

David Alaba was awesome. His goal was special, but the Austrian’s contribution was so much more than that. Moments after his stunning strike, which came from a counter attack that he launched himself after securing possession, Alaba made a key block on an Ansu Fati shot. The centre-back was solid throughout and there haven’t been many Clásico debuts as good as his. While Barcelona have had a goalscoring debutant in each of the past two Clásicos, with Sergio Agüero today and Mingueza last time, Real Madrid’s last Clásico debutant with a goal was all the way back in 2013 with Jesé. The only other players to achieve a goal on their first Clásico for Real Madrid in the 21st century were Raphaël Varane, Ronaldo Nazário and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

2. Can Mendy stay healthy?

If Ferland Mendy can stay fit and available, Real Madrid have the left side of their defence locked down. It’s incredible how quickly and naturally the French left-back has slotted back in since returning from his long-term injury. Real Madrid no longer have problems stemming from that position, as they had through the first weeks of this season.

3. What happened to Courtois and Fede Valverde?

In the final moments of this Clásico, Real Madrid’s players did a good job of timewasting and of disrupting any Barcelona momentum any time they hit the deck. But, the knee issue with Thibaut Courtois didn’t look like that. It looked a lot more serious and you could tell, given how some of his teammates sprinted to his aid. Real Madrid were preparing their final substitution at that moment and paused before sending on Dani Carvajal, just in case Andriy Lunin would be needed. In the end, Courtois was able to continue and he later stated that he thinks his knee is fine. Then, with Fede Valverde, who had to be substituted off after coming on himself, Ancelotti explained in his post-match press conference that he thinks it was just a knock. Let’s hope so.