Barcelona came to the Bernabéu 15 points behind Real Madrid, but thrashed Los Blancos 4-0 and it could have been an even larger scoreline. It was a night to forget for Real Madrid, but, before forgetting it, it’s time to analyse what happened by going through three pre-match questions we had, plus three new post-match ones that have come up from this shocking result.
1. How to replace Benzema in a Clásico?
There was one clear talking point ahead of the game and one clear question. Who would replace Karim Benzema? And how? The Frenchman had already missed seven other games this season, but this was different. This wasn’t Elche. This wasn’t the Copa del Rey. This wasn’t a sixth game of a Champions League group. This was El Clásico. So, what would Ancelotti go for? Mariano or Luka Jović as a natural No.9? Isco, Rodrygo or Asensio as a false nine? Just two up front? Well, surely nobody expected Luka Modrić to be the one leading the line to start off. That ruined the midfield as well as the attack and allowed Barça to take control from early on.
2. Would Barça’s trip to Istanbul hurt them here?
Nine of the 11 players who started for Barcelona in El Clásico also started against Galatasaray in the Europa League on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Real Madrid hadn’t played since Monday. So, would Real Madrid have fresher legs than Barça in the Clásico? No, not at all. If anything it was the opposite. Despite playing an intense knockout game in Istanbul on Thursday, Barcelona’s players had more zip about their play. That’s concerning for Real Madrid.
3. Would Hazard finally play a Clásico?
No. Eden Hazard cost Real Madrid €115m, yet he hasn’t played a single minute in a Clásico. There have been seven matches against Barcelona since he arrived at the club, yet he has missed them all. The Belgian was out of the first four with injury, while he has missed all three of this season’s Clásicos despite being fit for them. He simply hasn’t been selected and that underscores the failure that his transfer has been.
1. Was Ancelotti’s starting line-up or second-half line-up worse?
“I can get it wrong once, but I don’t usually get it wrong twice,” said Ancelotti in his post-match press conference. Well, he actually got it wrong twice in this one game. Not only was the starting XI weird and unbalanced, but the half-time changes of Camavinga for Kroos and Mariano for Dani Carvajal, with Casemiro dropping back as a centre-back, were also odd. The start of the second half was even worse. So, was Ancelotti’s reaction actually even worse than his starting formation?
2. Was this the day Pochettino to Real Madrid became real?
Sunday’s big day of action started with PSG being thrashed 3-0 at Monaco. It ended with Real Madrid losing a Clásico 4-0 at home. Both sides will surely win their leagues despite these setbacks, but there are doubts about both coaches for next season. Might Ancelotti’s position be under threat because of this result? And could he be replaced by a sacked-by-PSG Pochettino if he does go? If that transpires, March 20th was surely the day it was set in motion.
3. Will Real Madrid ever wear that cursed kit again?
Surely this was the first and last time that Real Madrid wear this cursed black kit. It was already a ridiculous idea to change colours for El Clásico. You don’t do that. Now, this marketing campaign has spectacularly backfired and no Madridista will want to own the shirt of the 4-0 loss to Xavi’s Barça. Surely the first team won’t be allowed to wear it again either.