Five decisions Barcelona got completely wrong against Real Madrid


RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 14: Referee Jose Luis Munuera Montero shows a red card to Ronald Araujo (L) of Barcelona during the Spanish Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Al-Awwal Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2024.
Photo by Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images

The Spanish Super Cup Final concluded with a humiliating defeat for the FC Barcelona players and a heartbreak for every Blaugrana faithful eager to see their team lift some silverware.

The scoreline read 4-1 at the full-time whistle, which was still less than what Los Blancos could have scored had they been more clinical with the chances they created.

This fixture would have been considered a morale booster had the result been in our favor. However, in hindsight, Barcelona did not perform well enough to secure victory at all. Here, we look at five key factors highlighted by Mundo Deportivo that contributed to an abysmal display against Los Blancos.

1: Playing an extremely high defensive line

Unlike last season’s record-breaking defensive performance, the Blaugranes have been rather leaky in the defensive half of the field this season.

Playing a risky high offensive line, coupled with a poorly executed offside trap, proved to be a recipe for disaster for defenders who were already underperforming by their standards.

2: Dysfunctional pressing

Pressing was one of the key strengths of the Barcelona team last time around, with the team relying on a relentlessly high press cohesively.

This facet of the game has been largely absent this season, and last night was no different. This allowed rival players ample time on the ball to make the best possible decision available, further adding to the list of concerns for players hailing from the Catalan club.

3: Lack of character

The players looked clueless out there, without any spirit and energy. A lack of leadership, initiation, and accountability was clearly evident. The quality is there, but Xavi’s men are at a loss of identity when facing dire situations.

A club of Barcelona’s stature should be remembered by moments like La Remontada, which has unfortunately been reduced to times of despair like the Anfield debacle, the 8-2 humiliation against Bayern, the loss against Roma, etc. A massive cultural overhaul is needed in the sporting area if Barcelona want to go toe to toe with the European giants.

4: Late response from the Coach

Knowingly or unknowingly, the time Xavi took to counter-act to the tactics of Carlo Ancelotti was a bit too much. The damage was already done by the time the Blaugranes reacted.

It was clear Roberto was struggling, Araujo had to be deployed at center-back instead of Kounde, and the defensive line was too high given our ability to deal with counter-attacks against Madrid’s pacy wingers.

The substitutions were also very late, and the deployment of players was also such that they could not be utilized to their fullest potential. Xavi needs to rethink his ways if he wants to turn around this underwhelming season and succeed at the club of his life.

5: Individual errors

As much as the coaching was sub-par, the players also made crucial errors which gave away big chances to their bitter rivals. Some were capitalized – Kounde’s bad interception and late recovery which led to Vinicius Jr.’s goal, and some were not – like Gundogan’s error in the buildup which had to be dealt with by the defenders.

A lapse in judgement led to Rodrygo converting the rebound which led to the fourth goal. Had the Catalans played with their minds in the game, the story could have been very different.

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