Barca on the brink after 100th Clasico win
Barcelona made it 100 Clasico wins on Sunday by beating Real Madrid 2-1 thanks to goals from none other than Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessie.
The win puts Barcelona 12 points clear and on the brink of being crowned champions. There are just 12 games left to play and Barca know they have one hand on the trophy.
100 - Barcelona have now won 100 games against Real Madrid in all competitions (253 games), at least 24 more than any other team in history (Athletic Club, 76 in 241 meetings with Los Blancos). Rivalry. pic.twitter.com/3W3YQMF3aD— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 20, 2023
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois summed it up pretty well afterwards. He said Los Blancos would keep on fighting but “you have to be honest, it’s four games difference.”
It was another gritty, single goal win from Barcelona, who were without key players such as Pedri and Ousmane Dembele but saw Roberto and Kessie step up to deliver the goods.
There were plenty of other impressive performance though. Frenkie de Jong was key, Alejandro Balde enhanced his reputation even further, Gavi annoyed Madrid all night and Raphinha was lively in attack.
Araujo gets unlucky
One player who did get a bit unlucky was Ronald Araujo. The Uruguayan was once again deployed at right-back and resumed his duel with Vinicius Junior.
The Brazilian did get a bit more joy out of the defender than he has recently, particularly early on when his cross was deflected off Araujo and past Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his near post.
Even Vinicius seemed to realise quite how unfortunate the defender had been.
FAIR PLAY— 433 (@433) March 19, 2023
Vini went to comfort Ronald Araújo after his own goal pic.twitter.com/XIk0iQSYTE
Rather incredibly, it was the first goal from open play Barca have conceded at the Camp Nou this season in La Liga - and it came from their own player - no opponent has managed is yet.
Araujo’s battle against Vinicius was once again a key theme of the game. The respect the two players have for each other was evident to see and this is a battle we should get to enjoy for many years to come.
Sergi Roberto loves El Clasico
Barcelona’s equalizer came from Sergi Roberto, who was something of a surprise name in the starting XI. Xavi opted to start the veteran over Kessie and was rewarded when Roberto kept his composure to level after a bit of chaos in the Madrid area.
Roberto certainly seems to love El Clasico, as you would expect from a player who has spent his entire career at the club. He has six assists in the famous fixture and now has his first goal.
4 - FC Barcelona's Sergi Roberto has scored four goals in 17 appearances in LaLiga 2022/23, as many as in his previous four seasons in the competition combined (four goals in 83 matches). Streak. pic.twitter.com/J8H8X65XzF— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 19, 2023
There was praise from Xavi who once again said he doesn’t understand the criticism Roberto regularly receives from some sections of the support.
“I don’t know what to say about Sergi,” he told reporters. “We don’t value him, but that’s the sadness of this club. He has always been an example and as a coach it is fantastic to coach him.”
Offside is offside
A Clasico would not be a Clasico without a moment of controversy and it came in the second half when Marco Asensio put the ball in the back of the net and celebrated by pointing at his badge, swiftly ending rumors about a possible Barca move in the summer.
Suddenly it looked like Barca’s lead at the top was going to be cut to six points but VAR intervened and declared it was offside. It was a close decision and one Madrid will surely whine about but “offside is offside” - as said a smiling Frenkie de Jong after the match.
Hay claro fuera de juego en el gol de Marco Asensio que De Burgos Bengoetxea anula tras consultar al VAR. pic.twitter.com/hdiphXEdWe— Fran Martínez (@LaLigaenDirecto) March 19, 2023
Xavi also made it clear that was in no doubt about the decision which was inevitably questioned by Carlo Ancelotti after the match.
“I’m surprised that Ancelotti has doubts about the disallowed goal, because it’s a scientific question,” he told reporters.
“It is clearly offside and there is no doubt. If people are talking about the VAR today, it’s a joke. The offside is very clear.”
It was a bad night for Ancelotti who saw his side’s title hopes all but ended. Barca have also now won three Clasicos in a row and four of the past five under Xavi.
What a moment for Kessie
Barcelona went on to win the game in stoppage time through Kessie. We all know it’s been a bit of a tough season for the Ivorian but you can be sure he’s feeling a whole lot better about life at Barca right now.
Credit also goes to Robert Lewandowski, who had another quiet night, for his backheel and Balde for a superb cross. Kessie then had the relatively simple task of slotting home and leading the raucous celebrations.
91:02 - At 91m 2s, Franck Kessié's winner was the lastest winning goal scored for FC Barcelona in #ElClasico in LaLiga since Lionel Messi (91:48) in April 2017 (3-2 at Santiago Bernabéu). Dessert. pic.twitter.com/Kg55Zsws9E— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 19, 2023
The goal was Kessie’s first in La Liga and in all likelihood one of the most important he’ll score in his career. It’s also Barcelona’s 3000th in La Liga at the Camp Nou and the latest winning goal scored for Barcelona in a league Clasico since Messi in the 3-2 win at the Bernabeub in 2017.
Simply, an unforgettable moment for El Presidente.