There haven’t been too many times this season where Barcelona have failed to deliver, but they spectacularly imploded in El Clásico at Camp Nou with a place in the Copa del Rey final there for the taking.
For much of the first half they were the better team and just didn’t have the cutting edge to be able to knock the stuffing out of Real Madrid.
Instead, the reverse happened and there is no excuse for the horrendous second-half performance which followed Los Blancos’ first-half injury time opener.
Though injuries played their part, that can’t be used to gloss over the fact that Xavi Hernández got his team selection wrong again in a big game.
Marcus Alonso has shown time and again that, despite his defensive experience, he is far, far too slow against attackers that have a bit of zip about them.
This defeat isn’t solely on him, however.
Real Madrid have beaten Barcelona by at least a four goal margin for the first time since January 1995. pic.twitter.com/d8ukOv8wsn— Squawka (@Squawka) April 5, 2023
Aside from Marc-André ter Stegen who could do nothing about the goals, only Alejandro Balde and Ronald Araujo emerge with any sort of credit from this one.
It’s the first time since 1995 that Real have beaten Barça by four goals and, frankly, they were on a whole other level after half-time.
Gavi showed his inexperience by continuously picking fights, Raphinha gave the club yet another reason to sell him in the summer with a dismal showing, and Robert Lewandowski might just as well have stayed at home and watched the match on TV for all the good he did in the game.
Compare and contrast his movement with that of Karim Benzema on the night. Chalk and cheese.
There was precious little to get excited about from a Barcelona perspective because once the confidence had gone, the performance fell flat.
It was never a question of how Barça were going to get back into the match but rather how many Real Madrid were going to score, and frankly the hosts got off lightly with four.
The only saving grace is that the Blaugranes are so far ahead in La Liga that only a momentous collapse over the next few weeks will even give Real a sniff of the league title.
When all is said and done, the prize for being the best across an entire season is generally the one that all teams want to win.
It won’t gloss over the shortcomings of this squad, and we can only hope that such a dismal display gives these players the big kick up the backside that they need to finish the campaign in the best possible way.