FC Barcelona is back! After five Clasicos lost in a row, Barça defeated Real Madrid 4-0 on Sunday for the 29th day of La Liga at the Santiago-Bernabéu stadium.
Thanks to this victory, he moved up to third place in the standings, tied with Atlético Madrid (54 points).
The Catalans took the lead in the first half thanks to two perfect balls served by Ousmane Dembélé for headers from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29th) and Ronald Araujo from a corner (38th), then sealed the result with two more goals at the return from the locker room, signed Ferran Torres (47th) and Aubameyang (53rd), for his double.
A prestigious success which confirms Xavi in his operation “up the rankings”: the providential Catalan technician had taken over the team in 9th place in La Liga in November, and managed to hoist it on the podium 10 days from the end .
Even if 12 points still separate the Blaugranas from the “White House”, the undisputed leader of the championship, the crushing blow is terrible for the team of Carlo Ancelotti, who had so far managed a perfect season since his return to the bench, the ‘last summer.
An invincible team
Offensively inert and very feverish in defense, the people of Madrid, deprived of their favorite striker Karim Benzema (injured in the left calf) and their left back Ferland Mendy (left abductor), were completely annihilated by the Catalans.
The Merengues, who remained on a series of five victories, suffered their first defeat in La Liga for almost three months (January 2 in Getafe, 1-0).
Conversely, the Catalans, boosted by their 2-1 success in Turkey on Thursday and qualification for the quarter-finals of the Europa League, extend their unbeaten streak to 12 games in all competitions. In La Liga, they have not lost since December 4 (1-0 against Betis at Camp Nou).
Dominating from the start, the Catalans smashed the defense of Real, who showed off their new black jersey. Ousmane Dembélé, preferred to Adama Traoré on the right wing, crunched Nacho throughout the first period. And he even just missed crowning his very good match with a goal, hooked by Eder Militao and Casemiro in the area in the 74th.
Courtois, precious in the 12th on the first big double opportunity for the Blaugranas, could not cope with the successive waves of yellow and red color. He conceded as many goals on Sunday night as in the last 10 games.
Ancelotti tried to react by bringing in Eduardo Camavinga in the 46th minute, to try to compete in midfield, and Mariano, to add an offensive option … but in vain.
“I have no problem taking responsibility for this rout. We played very badly, my device was not good. Sometimes we miss, that’s how it is. But no need to make a drama out of it. I’m really sorry about that. But you have to stay balanced. We have two weeks to digest this defeat. I can miss myself once, but twice is very rare”, reacted “Carletto”.
Specter of Barça de Guardiola
This humiliation awakened the memory of May 2, 2019, when Pep Guardiola’s Barça came to crush Real 6-2 in its enclosure, at the Santiago-Bernabéu.
Eight months after the departure of Lionel Messi and after five Clasicos lost in a row, Barça has finally restored its image at the best of times, for the 249th edition of the most watched club match in the world.
And Xavi, acclaimed by the Catalan supporters present at the Bernabéu on Sunday evening, rebalanced the accounts against Ancelotti, after the semi-final of the Spanish Supercup won 3-2 after extra time by Real at Riyadh in January.
At the end of the match, these same supporters sang to ask for a “manita”, a fifth goal, while Real supporters left the spans of the stadium before the final whistle.
“We’re back,” tweeted Gerard Pique minutes after the final whistle.
Even if the sporting consequences of this correction are anecdotal, the psychological blow could shake up the end of the season.
After the international break, Real will have to find the resources to recover, before facing Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League (April 6 and 12) and perhaps sealing their La Liga title at the end of April.
And Barça, in its best shape for three years, can start dreaming again.
Photo credit: AFP