Madrid, March 21 (IANS) The main course of the weekend’s football in Spain saw FC Barcelona enjoy a crushing 4-0 win away to Real Madrid in the Clasico after a game they dominated from start to finish.
Here are some things we learned this weekend in La Liga:
Dembele, Aubameyang make the difference
Two players stood out for Barcelona among a magnificent team performance: Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Dembele assisted Aubameyang for Barca’s opening goal and then provided the corner that allowed Ronald Araujo to double their lead in the 38th minute.
The Frenchman looks to be on his way out of the club in the summer, but with displays like this, it is obvious why Xavi still picks him when many would have left him in the stands.
Apart from opening the scoring with a stooping header, Aubameyang scored the fourth goal of the night with an intelligent chip over Courtois, and he could easily have had a hat-trick as Real Madrid never got to grip with his mobility. He now has seven goals in La Liga since joining Barca and has helped turn their season around.
Good times returning with Xavi
Sunday’s win for Barcelona ended a run of five consecutive defeats against their traditional rivals and after three seasons of the slow decline in the Camp Nou, it is hard not to see this game as marking the start of a new era.
Barca’s performances and results improved slowly but surely when Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman, but the arrival of signings Ferran Torres and Aubameyang (and to a lesser extent Adama and Dani Alves) have helped to give him the squad he needed in order to impose his footballing vision and the past month has seen a quantum leap in performances.
It is probably too late for a title charge, but after Sunday, Barca fans will dream of winning the Europa League and looking forward to next season, reports Xinhua.
A bad day for Ancelotti
While it was a good day for Xavi, it was exactly the opposite for his Real Madrid counterpart, Carlo Ancelotti, who saw how Barca outplayed his side and how his rival coach outthought him.
Ancelotti’s plan for replacing the injured Karim Benzema was to play Fede Valverde as an extra midfielder, hoping to pack the midfield and give extra pace alongside Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo, who played in the attack. That move almost worked twice in the opening 10 minutes, but after the opening goal, Barca began to tear holes in the Real Madrid midfield and attack.
Ancelotti’s response at half-time was to take off right-back Dani Carvajal and Toni Kroos and play with a three-man defense. Ferran Torres almost added a third 25 seconds after the restart and did make it 3-0 in the 47th minute, before Aubameyang netted a fourth just five minutes later.
It’s fair to say Ancelotti’s changes didn’t work.
No real damage for Madrid
Although the result is a blow to Real Madrid’s pride, especially as it came on their home turf, it doesn’t really make any big difference to the title race. Sevilla’s 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad means they are still nine points behind, while Barca are 12 points behind with a game in hand.
Barca’s next game is against Sevilla in two weeks after the international break, so one of both of Madrid’s main rivals will drop points there.
Although Real Madrid have to play Sevilla, Betis, and Atletico Madrid before the end of the season, it would still take a catastrophe for them to lose the title.