Real Madrid fell to another Clásico defeat, this time in LaLiga at Camp Nou, to all but end the title race in Spanish domestic competition due to a 2-1 defeat to the league leaders FC Barcelona.
Los Blancos took the lead as Vinícius Júnior’s cross was headed into his own net by Ronald Araújo, but Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessié struck late in each half to seal the three points for Barcelona.
These three stats help to understand some elements of the game.
2011/12: The last time Barcelona won 3 Clásicos in a row
Barcelona recorded their 100th Clásico win at Camp Nou and in doing so secured a third consecutive Clásico victory, a feat they had not achieved since Pep Guardiola was in the dugout during the 2011/12 campaign. That’ll boost Xavi’s confidence levels even more, heading into another Clásico in less than two weeks.
Real Madrid still have the balance overall, with 101 wins in the fixture to Barcelona’s 100, but the margin is narrowing. This defeat hurt even more because it was the first time since April 2017 that the team to score first ended up on the losing side of a Clásico. The last time Barcelona completed a comeback to win in a Clásico at Camp Nou in LaLiga was in 1989, when Ronald Koeman was among the goalscorers.
Barcelona had not won a Clásico at Camp Nou since October 2018, when Julen Lopetegui was the Real Madrid coach and suffered a 5-1 thrashing. Since then, the record showed two draws and two Real Madrid wins, but Xavi won his first Clásico on home turf after two in Saudi Arabia and three in the Spanish capital of Madrid.
5-4: Eduardo Camavinga put more passes into the final third than Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić combined
The dynamics in the Real Madrid midfield are evidently changing, and this Clásico was yet another example of just that.
One of the key stats doing the rounds after the game was that Toni Kroos boasted 100% passing accuracy, with all 36 of his passes finding their intended target. What that covers up is that only one of his 36 passes was into the final third. It’s easy to complete passes when they aren’t progressing the team into danger areas, and Kroos’ passing was a good example of that.
Similarly, Luka Modrić had 97% pass completion, with an eerily similar 35 completed passes from 36 attempts, but he too only had three passes into the final third. Between the two of them in midfield, they failed to create a single chance.
The boss in midfield was Eduardo Camavinga. 16% of his passes, with 5 out of 31, came with passes into the final third. His energy and pace helped him to step away from the Barcelona midfield and his vision looked to be a level higher than the two veterans either side of him.
Yet, the Frenchman has a cruel record in this fixture. His three Clásico starts have all ended in defeat. He has won Clásicos coming off the bench, but he’ll want to nail down his starting spot with a strong record against the Catalans too.
91:00: Goals were scored in the last minute of both the first and the second half for the first time ever in Clásico history
This is a worrying stat for a Real Madrid team who have made comebacks a part of their reputation over the past year or so. This time, Barcelona were the side who could keep fighting to the death and score in the final minute of each half or later, with Sergi Roberto’s goal coming on 44:26 and Franck Kessié’s coming on 91:00.
Recent Clásicos have seen Barcelona win the battle almost through their energy alone, with the midfield battle proving key. Their ability to make the fixture an incredibly intense battle has played to their strengths, particularly to Gavi and Pedri (absent on this occasion) and their fitness levels which allow them to run for days compared to the Los Blancos midfield.
It is perhaps surprising that even now, after having fallen to consecutive Clásico defeats to Xavi, Carlo Ancelotti has not prepared a stronger strategy to counteract this. His changes and substitutions came in two blocks, on the hour mark and on 76 minutes, with all five being made before Xavi had even made his first sub for Barcelona. Yet, none of the players coming in off the bench had much of an impact.
That fact also allowed Xavi to change his system and leave Real Madrid with limited flexibility to react and adapt accordingly. Once again, we saw that Xavi won this chess game on the tactics board against Carletto.