The Game of defense

((Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images))

4 days – 2 Wins!

FC Barcelona won at the Santiago Bernabéu for the second time in just a few days after Copa del Rey match, when they won 3-0. Just like Copa del Rey match, Barça was on the back foot for most of the match. But they defended better and managed to go through another 90 minutes without conceding a goal. They’ve now won five consecutive La-Liga games at the Bernabéu.

FC Barcelona made history at the Santiago Bernabeu with their 1-0 La Liga win when Sergi Roberto played Ivan Rakitic for the goal. They are the first team in history to win three games in a row at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The first 10 minutes were very similar to Wednesday’s match, Barça tried to keep possession and Real Madrid was attacking in the starting phase of the game. Barca had a lot of trouble with Madrid’s pressing, and Vinicius Junior was always creating the problem with his pace. Then Barca finally found a way to pass the ball in midfield and control Madrid’s counter-attacks which remained very dangerous. But FC Barcelona defence stood tall with Pique making numerous excellent plays in coverage.

In the second half, Real Madrid started by sending everybody forward trying to find an equaliser by leaving a lot of space in behind for counter attacks. FC Barcelona continued to waste good opportunities to score the second. But Real Madrid didn’t show any creativity in the final third and made things easy for the Barça defence.

 

A plan for Vinícius :

Roberto, a slower player than Semedo, starting at right-back against Vinícius, one of the fastest players around. When Arthur came back from injury, Valverde continued with Roberto rather than Semedo. who kept Vinícius quite in the last el-Clasico.

Ivan Rakitić was moved from the left midfield spot to the right side. That is what we saw when Roberto gives the throw-pass assistance to Ivan. Roberto was instructed to press Vinícius and show him outside as soon as he got the ball. That means that whenever Vinícius gets the ball, he would be less likely to cut-outside where he is less effective. Roberto and all Barcelona players followed this script. The idea was to prevent Vinícius from cutting inside and take a curl short.

Barcelona’s defensive display :

Barcelona relied on its defenders to close out the match with the one-goal lead. Piqué and Clément Lenglet had a great match and made a series of last-second blocks and tackles that prevented Madrid from scoring. Piqué was the man of the match, not just keeping Vinícius quiet when needed but making tackles and winning almost everything in the air.

Pique continued his fine form with another superb showing against Real Madrid. The centre-back seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. He also supplied some great entertainment with a long dribble that saw him go past his goalkeeper with Karim Benzema chasing after him and post-match banter.

Real Madrid is now 12 points behind FC Barcelona with only 12 games left to play.

 

 

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