Four days. Two El Clásico games at the Santiago Bernabéu. Two Barcelona victories. The La Liga leaders won the second meeting against Real Madrid this week with a goal from Ivan Rakitic to take a 10-point lead at the top of the table and end a dream four-day stretch at the Spanish Capital. Just like on Wednesday, Barça had to be on the back foot for most of the match, but they defended better this time and managed to go through 90 minutes without being in real trouble, and they’ve now won five consecutive games at the Bernabéu.
The first 10 minutes of the game were very similar to Wednesday’s match: Barça tried to keep possession but had a lot of trouble with Madrid’s pressing, and Vinicius Junior was constantly creating trouble with his pace and skill. Then the Blaugrana finally found a way to pass the ball in midfield and control Madrid’s counter attacks, and the chances started coming.
As Barça increased their dominance in the game, they deservedly took the lead when Sergi Roberto played Ivan Rakitic through on goal, and the Croatian chipped Courtois to put the visitors in front. Madrid naturally increased their pressure to try and find a quick equalizer, and the Barça defense looked shaky at times while trying to avoid it. But the spaces were there for the counter attacks, and the Catalans started creating (and missing) chances to get a second goal.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the final 20 minutes, however, and at halftime Barça were playing well and had the lead. But Madrid were also playing well and had enough talent to score, so the Blaugrana needed to stay solid to get the win.
Madrid started the second half by sending almost everybody forward trying to find an equalizer; they left a lot of space in behind for Barça counter attacks, and the Blaugrana continued to waste really good opportunities to score the second. Real kept trying to create through Vinicius, but Sergi Roberto did a spectacular job defending the Brazilian on the wing.
As we reached the final 20 minutes it seemed like Barça constantly missing chances on the counter would eventually cost them the victory, but Real just didn’t show any creativity in the final third and made things easy for the Barça defense at times. So Isco came on for Casemiro to try and solve that problem for Madrid, and the team looked better and more dangerous with him.
Philippe Coutinho replaced a tired Ousmane Dembélé as Ernesto Valverde tried to find someone who could get a second goal. Coutinho was poor in his first minutes of the pitch and lost easy balls that led to Madrid attacks, and the home team’s pressure was even stronger going into the final 10 minutes.
It was all about survival for Barça in the dying seconds of the game as they waited for the final whistle, and it finally came to end another incredibly nervous Clásico for Barça fans. We didn’t play great in both, but we’ve won both. It’s El Clásico, so winning is all that matters.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets (Semedo), Arthur (Vidal); Messi, Suárez, Dembélé (Coutinho)
Goal: Rakitic (26’)
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilón; Modric, Casemiro (Isco), Kroos (Valverde); Bale (Asensio), Benzema, Vinicius