Real Madrid won yet another Clásico, but one this had a lot of ups and downs and suffering, having to go into extra time. After a solid start to the game and a goal, Barça turned the tables, disconnecting Real’s possession circuit and poking holes at the defense of Los Blancos, which resulted in a Luuk de Jong goal. In the second half, Barça started strongly but lost steam over time, with Real taking back control and scoring a goal thanks to Benzema. However, another defensive mishap in the box allowed Ansu Fati to score from a set-piece, taking the game into extra time. Finally, another counterattack led by Casemiro and finished by Valverde put the game to rest.
Player ratings are below:
Thibaut Courtois—7: It was a more normal, solid day in the office for Tibo. Barça forwards struggled to shoot on goal, and he didn’t have to make any miracle saves this time around. Maybe his positioning was not the best in that Fati goal, but it’s hard to blame him for either of Barça’s two goals.
Dani Carvajal—6.5: A solid return for the starting right-back, but he had to deal with a very troublesome foe in Dembelé. His defense of Dembelé was a mixed bag: he was overwhelmed by the French winger towards the end of the first half, which led to some chances and Luuk de Jong’s goal. However, he recovered during the second half.
Eder Militão—3: This was Militão’s worst game in a while. His clearance attempt bounced off De Jong for the first goal, and he lost aerial duels against De Jong in the first half and even against Ansu Fati for the second goal. We’ve seen what peak Militão looks like, and we know that he can do a lot better than this when defending the box. Even with the ball, he looked shakier than usual, struggling under pressure with only 82% of passes completed, including only 1 out of 9 attempted long balls.
Nacho—7.5: Apart from his natural struggles in winning aerial duels against Luuk Airlines, it was a solid showing for Nacho. His ability with the ball is a bit underrated, and he was good against the Barça pressing, completing 95% of his passes and 5 out of 6 long balls. Most importantly, he didn’t make major mistakes in defending the box. Nacho was his usual reliable self.
Mendy—8.5: Real’s best defender tonight. Barça’s right-wingers were non-existent in this game, with Mendy easily taking care of Ferran during the first half and Abde during the second half and extra time. His superiority over Abde was shocking, with Abde’s dribbling attempts constantly crashing against the Mendy wall. To boot, Mendy also handled Barça’s pressure well, not losing the ball and even dribbling through Barça players several times (5 dribbles completed out of 6).
Casemiro—8: Good game from Casemiro, not just because of his defensive work and all the attacks he intercepted, but also because of what he did with the ball. He passed quickly and accurately despite Barça’s pressure, and his ability to drive counterattacks forward is underrated. One such counter led to Valverde’s goal in extra time.
Kroos—6.5: A bit of a tough game for Toni, who had Gavi breathing on his neck the whole time. He still completed 97% of his passes, but he couldn’t intervene in the game and drive passes forward as much as usual. There is only one key pass for him in this game, which is also lower than his usual standard.
Modrić—8.5: He was key to Real’s dominance during the first 30 mins. Luka moved to provide a vital passing outlet for his teammates under pressure, and his movement, tight ball control, and passing found several holes in the Barça press. For example, he moved towards the right sideline to avoid the press and then launched passes into space for Asensio. He had less impact during the second half, but Real struggled to control the game once he was subbed out.
Asensio—4: After arguably his most complete performance of the season against Valencia, Asensio dropped another poor game this time around. He was less active and dynamic in his runs than in previous games, and he didn’t always track back on time to help Carvajal defend against Alba and Dembelé.
Benzema—9: He’s just on another level. He plays off Vinicius telepathically at this point, and their counterattacks were the biggest threat to Barça. He pickpocketed Busquets and assisted Vinicius for the first goal, and scored the second goal after two previous shots that hit the post and forced a big Ter Stegen save. And even as he was dragging his tired legs during extra time, he still managed to set up some counter opportunities for Vinicius and company.
Vinicius—9: Also on another level, he struck fear into the hearts of Barça players every time he got the ball or ran forward. He completely outclassed Alves, and even Araujo couldn’t catch up to him during the first goal. Araujo started adapting and winning more duels against him during the second half and extra time, but in 2022 Vinicius can outsmart opponents in other ways. For example, his feint during extra time helped set up Valverde for the winning goal.
Rodrygo—7: He definitely improved on Asensio, with several dribbling runs that put Alba and Piqué in trouble as well as runs into space. He also set up the third goal with a textbook run and low cross to Valverde. However, he needs to be a bigger goal threat, and his last-minute miss does leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste.
Valverde—7: Valverde has been struggling to contribute in possession lately and the team definitely lost a bit of control by replacing Modrić with him. However, Los Blancos also needed his fresh legs, defensive efforts, and his runs on the counter. One of those runs paid off and led to the game's winning goal.
Lucas Vázquez—6: A solid cameo for Lucas. He did not make any major contributions in the offense, but he also did not make any major mistakes when defending Dembelé, which was the biggest concern about his substitution.
Camavinga—6: A short cameo for Camavinga, who got to play in the last ten minutes of the game. Frankly, he could have played sooner since Kroos was not having a great day, and Real could have used his energy and movement earlier.