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Immediate reaction: Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid

Quick recap from El Clasico

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

In the first El Clasico of the 2023-24 La Liga season, FC Barcelona held a 1-0 halftime lead over rivals Real Madrid at the Montjuïc. A goal from Ilkay Gundogan gave the hosts the advantage after a dominant opening 45 minutes.

The only goal of the half came in the 6th minute, when Gundogan pounced on a defensive error to slot home for Barcelona. A poor backpass from Real caused confusion in their own penalty area, allowing the German midfielder to steal the ball and finish comfortably past Kepa. Madrid almost conceded again minutes later; this time a Toni Kroos dispossession led to a Fermin Lopez shot that hit the post.

Real Madrid were very poor in the first half, showing little cohesion in their pressing and unable to muster any momentum in transition due to Barcelona’s resolute defense. The visitors failed to register a single shot on target and had just 0.15 expected goals.

Captain Dani Carvajal was Madrid’s standout player, making several crucial interventions to thwart dangerous Barcelona attacks down his side. But Vinicius Jr. struggled to influence the game at all for the visitors in an anonymous first-half showing. Barcelona were in full control at the midway point of this crucial Clasico clash.

Barcelona started the second half in the same vein, looking comfortable in possession and limiting Madrid’s opportunities. Seeking a change in momentum, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti brought on Luka Modric, Joselu, and Eduardo Camavinga. The Cules had brought in Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Lamin Yamal to enhance their attack.

Jude Bellingham missed a golden chance from close range after Gavi made a heroic sliding challenge in the box to deny the Englishman. However, Bellingham made amends with a devastating long-range strike from 25 yards out that rattled the Barcelona net to level the match at 1-1. Vinicius Jr found Joselu in an excellent position in the box in the 88th minute, but the Spanish striker squandered the chance.

I had written this report until this point, and I was ready to submit it. Jude Bellingham had other ideas. The new face of the Real Madrid franchise punctured Cule Souls in the 92nd minute with a tap-in from five yards out. Real Madrid took all three points back to the capital.

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