Real Madrid came back from behind to beat Barcelona at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in the first ever Clásico to be hosted at the stadium. It was a dramatic turnaround from the team in white as a Jude Bellingham double gave Carlo Ancelotti and co. a 2-1 victory over Xavi’s Barcelona.
Bellingham wasn’t the first Clásico debutant to get on the scoresheet as Ilkay Gündoğan opened the scoring on six minutes with a composed finish. The scoreline would remain that way until Bellingham fired in a rocket from distance shortly after the hour mark and then added a winner with only minutes left on the clock as he found himself in the right place at the right time to volley home.
Here are three stats which help to tell the tale of the game.
57%: Of Real Madrid’s total xG accounted for by the second goal
Real Madrid were not at their best in this encounter and their expected goals tally reflected that. On 90 minutes, Los Blancos had registered 0.45 xG, and were fortunate that Jude Bellingham had converted a goal from a chance worth just 0.03 xG from 25 yards on 68 minutes.
Beyond that, Real Madrid struggled to create chances. The team managed only four shots from inside the box, with two blocked and two missing the target, and Barcelona’s defensive block was doing a good job of keeping them out and at a distance. Real Madrid’s lack of width was making it even harder to find a way through and the diamond was struggling with the physicality of the Barcelona midfield who had kept Bellingham’s creativity quiet.
On 92 minutes, Dani Carvajal broke forward and put in his first cross of the game which was flicked up and fell to Jude Bellingham with a chance worth 0.6 xG, more than the entire sun total of the team’s chances up to that point. He didn’t need asking twice as he slotted the ball beyond Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Bellingham only had two shots in this game, scoring both, and actually had an inconsequential performance other than his two strikes. He failed to complete any of his four attempted dribbles and lost 12 out of 17 duels, more than any other player and his highest loss percentage in any game this season. The stat that mattered was the one which saw him single-handedly turn the game on it’s head.
1965: The last time Real Madrid came from behind to win an away Clásico
Not since 1965 had Real Madrid come back from behind at half-time to win in Barcelona against the Blaugrana, and the failure to register a single shot on target before the break meant that Madridistas were left feeling frustrated. The second half comeback was against the odds and the first time since a 2-1 win in 1965 at Camp Nou that Real Madrid have turned a Clásico on Catalan soil around.
February 14th, 1999, was the last time that Barcelona scored so early on in a Clásico on home turf. The goalscorer was none other than Luis Enrique on four minutes as what would turn out to be a 3-0 win for the Catalans. Including home fixtures for Real Madrid, it was nine years ago, when Neymar scored first in a 3-1 win for Los Blancos at the Bernabéu in 2014.
It reflected a sloppy start for Real Madrid who did not come out of the blocks racing like their Catalan counterparts, with the build-up to Gündoğan’s goal including two unfortunate deflections. It may have been Barcelona’s only shot on target in the first 45 minutes, but at 0.52 xG for that one alone, it was enough for Kepa to be left with little chance of keeping the scoreline level.
Early goals in Clásicos have tended to favour Real Madrid, with 10 of the last 12 goals inside six minutes to be for the team in white. This time, it wasn’t the case, and it put Ancelotti’s team on the back foot, and they had their work cut out to bounce back.
7: Clásico wins for Carlo Ancelotti
This was Carlo Ancelotti’s 14th Clásico as Real Madrid coach and his seventh win to match a record of seven defeats. With 14 games in the fixture, he’s become the coach with the fifth-highest number of involvements, behind Miguel Muñoz, Johan Cruyff, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
With seven victories, he surpasses Zinedine Zidane’s six wins, meaning that Muñoz is the only Real Madrid coach to have won more Clásico fixtures than the Italian, with the club legend having registered 16 in total.
This was also important as it drew Ancelotti level with Xavi on four wins each when the two coaches have come head to head. They are even level on 14 goals scored each, and the rivalry looks set to continue. Xavi seemed to have got the better of his Italian counterpart in the tactics of battle early on, but the eventual victor proved to be the Real Madrid coach.
Speculation continues to be rife that Ancelotti may be in his final season at the club and his future Clásicos could be numbered. The return fixture guaranteed at least one, while the Supercopa could give a second in the final, in addition to any further Copa del Rey or Champions League meetings.