Martino’s plan for Barcelona was to control the game in the midfield, shut down the sidelines and to maintain the rival team on their half. Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, on the other hand, came into the pitch trying to hold off Barcelona’s attack and to try to disarm the midfield by shutting down Xavi and Iniesta.
In the game
In the first half of the game, Barcelona was the complete team in the field. They managed to create various chances through the defensive line, they had most of the ball control and they managed to score an exquisite goal by their new and upcoming star, Neymar.
Ancelotti’s team seemed lost; they never had complete control over the ball other than to clear dangerous attacks from Barcelona, they played to survive, which is what Mourinho used to do. Real Madrid is formed by best players in the world and they played like any other La Liga team would against Barcelona, with fear.
In the second half, Real Madrid came on the pitch a bit more decisive. Ancelotti finally realized that the team needed a true finisher, somebody that had the ability to move the defensive line and create chances closer to the goal.
Together with Benzema, Real Madrid’s formation became offensive, they were still unclear of ideas in the middle of the field because they lacked creativity and vision, but they managed to move forward and create chances. Barcelona’s ball possession had reduced but their attacking chances were still making Madrid’s center backs work.
Messi, who still not 100 percent on his game, managed to drag the defense and open space for Neymar and later for Alexis Sanchez, who scored the second goal with marvelous chip over Diego Lopez at the 78th minute. Jese Rodriguez came in the game and with his speed and his willingness to impress, he managed to score Madrid’s first and only goal on added time.
Cristiano Ronaldo was not as critical as he usually is for Real Madrid, because he lacked ideas and had no companionship on the attack. Most of Ronaldo’s chances came from combinations with Lucas Modric and later on the game, with Benzema.
Gareth Bale, the 100 million euro man, was not worth every penny on the derby and has yet to prove his value and high demand. He lacked rhythm, assertion and edge which is what brought most of the attention.
Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, was not on his best game on his finishing touches, he had a clear one-on-one with Diego Lopez and his shot went off away from the back post, unlikely of him. Although his physical shape was questioned due to the injuries, he seemed top notch and he played the whole 90 minutes.
Neymar Junior was clearly the star of this match, not only he managed to score his first goal in a “clasico” but he also improved his decision making with the ball. Game by Game he is proving his value and he is starting to trust himself enough to take the reins of the team’s offense, which is something Pedro was never able to do.
Alexis Sanchez, “El niño maravilla”, is just what Barcelona needs off the bench, when the game is numbing out Sanchez brings that punch of energy and edge that this club needs. His speed with the ball and his vertical runs are what made this player the best player of the match, in just 20 minutes he was able to make the difference.
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