FC Barcelona fans came in droves to support their team at the Camp Nou last night, as they hosted the first El Clasico of the season against bitter rivals Real Madrid. Unfortunately for the Culers, not only did they witness their team lose 1-2, their teenage sensation also failed to deliver on the expectations.
Leading up to the match, the Blaugrana had been confident that the return of Ansu Fati from a lengthy injury and home advantage could help them edge out their opponents. However, Real Madrid came ready for them, and Lucas Vazquez was able to completely neutralise Ansu’s attack. Not only that, Lucas was also able to run circles around Barca defender Eric Garcia.
With Ansu proving to be a flop, his counterpart in Real Madrid, fellow youngster Vinicius Junior did the opposite. While the Brazilian wasn’t able to find the back of the net on Sunday, he threatened the Barcelona area several times, keeping the defenders busy.
He missed out on an early opportunity because of an awkward bounce that he could not latch on to, but Barcelona’s defence had to stretch their legs to keep up with his speed and dribbling creativity throughout the match. In effect, this freed up several other Real Madrid players whenever they approached Barcelona’s goal. Oscar Mingueza looked like a headless chicken against Vini, and Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman was forced to sub him off at the half in order to lessen Madrid’s dominance.
Because Barcelona were struggling so much in defence, Real Madrid newcomer David Alaba was given the opportunity to score his debut El Clasico goal. The Austria international said last year that it was his childhood dream to wear the white shirt, and now he can proudly count himself as a goalscorer in the all-important El Clasico.
The former Bayern Munich defender is no stranger to winning against Barcelona of course, but his scorching torpedo that zipped past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 32nd minute must surely be something special. Alaba is the pretender to Sergio Ramos’ throne at central defence, and he proved that he can score in crucial matches just as the former captain often did. However, Ramos was still notably missed whenever a corner came in for Real, with the high-flying Ramos absent from the box.
Back to Ansu, the second half was no better for him, and because he was still building up his strength after a year-long injury, Koeman decided to sub him off in favour of Sergio Aguero. It was a good call, with Ansu clearly needing more time to build up match fitness. Aguero meanwhile, made an instant impact. He scored a consolation goal for Barcelona seven minutes into stoppage time, which would have been brilliant if Lucas didn’t score Real Madrid’s second goal just a few minutes before.
In the end, the near-capacity crowd of 86,422 left the Camp Nou disappointed, but Real Madrid did have to work hard for the victory. Barcelona have a long way to go, but it was actually not a poor performance overall. Sergino Dest missed a couple of clear opportunities, and things could have been very different if one of those went in. Some fans did not feel the same, with abuse hurled at Koeman at the end of the match.