Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid (Araújo OG). A terrible loss for Madrid. Here is my reaction to the intense battle. Coming up: Player ratings, presser highlights and a post game podcast.
As must win games come, not many would be bigger than this for Real Madrid. They had been on a roller coaster of a league campaign - at first leading the table comfortable, but now finding themselves heavily trailing behind rivals Barcelona. A defeat at the Nou Camp would leave Madrid twelve points behind their opponents. It has reached the point in which this Clásico meant make or break for the remaining title hopes. Madrid were without David Alaba due to injury, meaning that Nacho Fernández started at left-back. Fede Valverde continued to be deployed out on the right hand side of midfield, with players like Rodrygo Goes and Marco Asensio placed on the bench. Karim Benzema captained the team for this big game.
It was a bright start for Madrid who created the first chances of the game. Karim Benzema got the first shot in at Marc-André ter Stegen who had to make a low save to deny the captain. Robert Lewandowski responded quickly by making Thibaut Courtois do some work of his own. Sergi Roberto came close with a long ranged strike, but Madrid would take the lead moments later. It came via an own goal, as Ronald Araújo headed the ball beyond his own keeper accidentally. It became half chances galore with no real goal scoring opportunities for the bulk of the first half, and it seemed like Los Blancos would carry the all important lead into half time, but Barcelona would strike at the worst of times. They were pushing, and after an attack it was Sergi Roberto who would find himself in the right place at the right time to ensure the teams went into the break level.
Barça’s chance to edge closer to sealing the title. A must-win for Real Madrid to close the gap to six points.— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 19, 2023
Today is a crucial moment in La Liga’s title race pic.twitter.com/7ha8iL8sHv
The intensity remained high despite the break, and both teams were trying hard to gain the season defining lead. Barcelona took a slight hold of the game as Lewandowski and Frenkie De Jong making Courtois stretch to keep it level. Despite their grasp on the game, it would be Real Madrid who would hit the net first - as substitute Marco Asensio got a touch on a Dani Carvajal delivery to direct the ball past the keeper. The goal was disallowed however when it was revealed that Asensio started in an offside position. The Spaniard would come close not long later with a strike that sailed just over the bar. These interactions would swing the play for Madrid, who enjoyed more of the ball in the Barcelona half - but at this point there were only minutes left to make a difference. Barcelona would end the second half in the same fashion as the first - making those final moments count. Franck Kessié would be the match, and more than likely league winning goal-scorer. 2-1 the final score. Thoughts?