Real Madrid fans are celebrating a 3-1 Clásico victory this Sunday, with goals from Karim Benzema, Fede Valverde and Rodrygo powering Los Blancos to the vital three points in this top-of-the-table clash with Barcelona. As is the case with every Clásico, there was so much to talk about before the game and so much to discuss now. So, here come the three answers and three questions from this Sunday’s game.
1. Who would Vinícius be going up against?
The Real Madrid starting XI basically wrote itself, but there were a few question marks when it came to the Barcelona line-up. The biggest question was over the right-back position, and who’d be going up against Vinícius. Would Sergi Roberto be filling in? Would Alejandro Balde switch sides? Would Jules Koundé be back from injury and deployed on the right? In the end, Koundé was back, but played at centre-back, even though most of his minutes so far for Barça had been at right-back. It was Sergi Roberto tasked with handling Vinícius and, even if the Brazilian had a quieter game than some Madridistas expected, he was still absolutely decisive. It was Vinícius running into space that produced Karim Benzema’s opener, while he also got away from Sergi Roberto to lead the attack that led to Fede Valverde’s goal. Vinícius certainly played his part.
2. Would Lunin be up to the task?
This was Andriy Lunin’s first Clásico, with Thibaut Courtois still out injured. So, how would the Ukrainian do? Would he handle the pressure? Well, he did a decent job and saved four shots, although without having to make any incredible saves. His distribution was his weakness here, with the likes of David Alaba, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema even having to speak with him to tell him to slow down his goal kicks and stop rushing. Overall, he deserves praise for making the absence of Courtois a non-factor in this Clásico.
3. Would Barça suffer the ‘Drake curse’?
In the last Clásico, Real Madrid famously wore a new black shirt and it didn’t go well at all, as they lost 4-0, after which no Madridista wanted to buy that kit. For this match, Barcelona announced a special marketing-driven shirt as they were going to wear Drake’s owl logo on the front instead of the Spotify logo. That led some to wonder if they would suffer the ‘Drake curse’, with the Canadian rapper famously jinxing various sports teams or figures in the past, including Manchester United, PSG, Alabama or Connor McGregor. Drake even placed a CA$833,335.85 bet on Barcelona and Arsenal to win this Sunday. The English side did their part. Real Madrid prevented Barcelona from doing theirs.
1. How good is Fede Valverde in Clásicos?
We’ve spoken a lot this season about how good Fede Valverde is, but let’s talk specifically about just how good he is in Clásicos. The Uruguayan really steps up on these big occasions and this was his third goal in clashes with Barcelona, meaning he is averaging a goal every 203 minutes of Clásico action, compared to one goal every 1,140 minutes against all other opponents. You can tell he loves these big occasions just by looking at his celebration after today’s strike.
2. Should Real Madrid have sought revenge for the 4-0?
This was a great win for Real Madrid, but some fans actually wanted more. Some wanted revenge for the 4-0 and for some of the other heavy Clásico defeats that Barça have inflicted on Los Blancos over the years. But, Ancelotti explained afterwards that a ‘goleada’, a thrashing, isn’t his priority, saying: “We just think about winning matches, not thrashing teams.” Is this the right attitude? Or do Madridistas want even more? Real Madrid haven’t won a Clásico by more than two goals since 2008, whereas Barça have won seven Clásicos by more than two goals since then. Should Ancelotti’s side have sought a larger margin of victory? Or are the three points enough, no matter the scoreline? Be honest, did you hope for a 4-0 or a 5-0 once this game got to half time?
3. Is Xavi’s job secure?
Real Madrid were able to rubber stamp what has been an awful week for Barcelona, with the Catalan side also on the brink of Champions League elimination following their 3-3 draw with Inter. While Los Blancos have the steady hand of Carlo Ancelotti, there are the first mutterings of discontent over Xavi’s job at the Camp Nou. This was Xavi’s 50th game in charge of Barcelona, but he has only won 28 of them, for a win percentage of 56%. Of all coaches to have been in charge of Barça for at least 50 matches in the past two decades, that’s the worst win percentage of all. Is his job secure?