Is Barcelona's El Clásico victory really as convincing as the scoreline suggests? | inside World Soccer


Is Barcelona's El Clásico victory really as convincing as the scoreline suggests?

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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Barcelona are back. That seems to be the narrative that has followed Barça's emphatic victory over their bitter rivals Real Madrid recently.

Yes, it was quite the triumphant display — wiping the floor with Los Blancos in every aspect to win the El Clásico by a commanding four goals to nil, leaving Carlo Ancelotti and his men embarrassed in front of a sold-out crowd at the Santiago Bernabéu.

It goes without saying that it was a fantastic performance all round from Xavi's men, who boasted 60% possession and had six more shots on target (10) than the hosts (4).

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have proved to be an inspiring arrival, scoring twice either side of strikes from Ronald Araújo and Ferran Torres — another January signing by the Catalan side's new manager.

But so often in football it can be said that teams are back after such a result. How many times has that claim already been made since Antonio Conte took over at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium or during Ole Gunnar Solskjær's stint at Old Trafford — when Manchester United seemed were supposedly 'back' seemingly every other month!

We can see why it has become such a cliché though, the emotions in football are always so high and it can be very easy to get carried away, but to say Barcelona are back after this victory is perhaps a bit premature.

Indeed, it is there first El Clásico victory over Madrid in six attempts — drawing 0-0 at the Nou Camp back in December 2019 before five successive defeats.

But is it really a fair reflection of where the two sides are? You could argue that it is more a case of Barça wanting it more than their hosts on the night.

Ancelotti's men are 10 points clear of a Sevilla side who are starting to show cracks domestically and are almost nailed on for the La Liga title in the Bet exchange.

There is a sense that they let their guard down and didn't have the same hunger going into the game as they did when both sides were truly competing for the ascendency in Spanish top flight.

Barcelona had arguably accepted that defeat was on the horizon during that five-game winless streak, but that was not the attitude that Xavi, a man who bleeds the Barça colours, allowed to them have ahead of this game — that was evident after they fought tooth and nail before ultimately losing 3-2 in extra-time of the Spanish Super Cup in January.

The same cannot be said about the current Madrid squad. They didn't seem to have the same fighting spirit as their rivals and didn't appear to think that this match was important as their upcoming Champions League quarter-final ties against Chelsea.

Karim Benzema, Los Blancos' most important player this season, watched on from the stands as he wanted to get rid of a calf strain ahead of that pivotal encounter with the Blues.

There's no doubt that these 90 minutes of football will go a long way in Xavi trying to get Barcelona back to their best selves, and on and off the pitch they look to be in a better position. But there is still an uphill task ahead of them, this was nothing more than the beginning of that climb.

Those who know the answer to 'how does a betting exchange work?' will know that this side is still not as safe of a bet as they were just a few years ago.

After all, Barça were 12 points adrift of Real Madrid when the Spaniard took over from Ronald Koeman in November — four months on, that gap still stands!

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