A difficult loss to endure, especially given the timing of some very dire results against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League, Fc Barcelona now sit at 2nd position in La Liga Santander, with a total accumulation of 22 points after matchday 9.
On the other hand, rivals Real Madrid now sit atop the league table, with 25 points, and remain the only team in the Spanish First Division to be unbeaten thus far in the league campaign.
The game in Madrid started off rather cataclysmically for the Catalans, who after a string of Real Madrid’s scurried possession found themselves in a situation where Vinicius Jr was face-to-face with Marc Andre Ter Stegen, but the German International managed to parry away the Brazilian’s attempt. However, as is always the case with Real’s surging attacks, luck seems to always be with Los Blanco’s motives, as the ball fell right in front of Karim Benzema, who slotted away his grounded shot in goal.
Moments later, in the 23rd minute, Robert Lewandowski potentially wasted a massive chance to score in an open net, that may or may not have been ruled for offside had it been scored. Regardless, it was an opportunity the Polish striker should have taken advantage of regardless of the later ruling on it.
Then following a very dull possession of the ball where Real Madrid always seemed to be the team comfortable in the game, Carvajal made a sloppy clearance that would’ve fallen right into the clutches of a Barcelona player comfortably, had it not been for Eric Garcia to head the ball backwards when there is no clear danger, right into the path of a prowling Vinicius Jr, who sets up a combo of passes with Tchouameni and Mendy, with the latter then passing to a wide open Valverde hovering right outside Barcelona’s box, the latter taking a touch and slotting a powerful low shot to the Ter Stegen’s right bottom corner. Making it 2-0 to Madrid.
This second goal in particular is one that encompasses many of Barcelona’s defensive faults. Individual errors because of irrational positional decisions and hastiness to assess your surroundings, as well as how the Catalans seem to ALWAYS leave the space right in front of the box completely unguarded and open at all times. A similar goal was conceded to Hakan Calhanoglu in the San Siro and is a mistake that should not have been repeated again.
Statistically, Barcelona generated more goal chances in this game, as analytical gatherings suggest the Catalans had a total accumulated XG of 2.16, to Madrid’s 1.14. However, this does not reflect how dangerous either team looked in possession. The hosts always seemed composed and collected in their small surges of possession, whereas La Blaugrana seemed utterly clueless and soulless in their long retentions of it.
The introduction of Gavi and Fati gave Barcelona the lethality they had been praying for the whole game. Gavi’s urgency to retrieve the ball, pass it, commit fouls, or clear it away from danger instantly impacted the Catalan’s morale.
Now playing with more desire to get something out of this game, a moment of sheer brilliance from Ansu Fati where he escapes the outstretched clutches of Camavinga, puts Fede Valverde to the ground, and then plays an exquisite pass behind Militao to Lewandowski, who flicks it into the path of Ferran Torres to tap it in allows Barcelona to make it 2-1. There was hope amongst Culés.
Consistently pressing, stringing passes together, and coordinating much better attacks, there was positive urgency amongst the Barca players who were now looking to aim for a draw at the very least. Barcelona even managed to attempt a few solid chances, mostly all coming from Ansu Fati.
But it was not to be. Eric Garcia, as prone as he is to these situations, fouled Rodrygo in the box and managed to get Real Madrid a penalty, which they slotted away and were finally comfortable again. 3-1 to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The game was practically over.
This game now puts Barcelona in a very tense position, where they are currently no longer top of the league table, and neither are their chances in the UEFA Champions League looking good, it may be time for some severe self-assessment and reflection. There is still time to save this season.