Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona - 3 reasons why Los Blancos lost the match
official, Barcelona have bragging rights in Spain, having triumphed in three of the four domestic El Clasico clashes of this season (by an aggregate score of 10-2), winning the latest installment by 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, courtesy a first half strike by Ivan Rakitic.
The victory took Barcelona 10 points clear on top of Atletico Madrid in second place, while Real Madrid lie 12 points behind in third.
Los Blancos needed a victory in the match to resuscitate their slim hopes of league glory, but the defeat leaves all their domestic aspirations shattered, having also been knocked out of the Copa Del Rey by the same opponents on Wednesday.
This was Barcelona's fourth consecutive La Liga victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, with the capital club having not tasted league victory over their bitter rivals on their own patch since a 3-1 win in 2014.
This defeat would be a bitter pill to swallow (as all Clasico losses usually are for both teams), and there are likely to be repercussions, as consecutive home defeats are never acceptable at a club like Real Madrid, much less against Barcelona. In this piece, we shall be taking a look at three factors which contributed to Real Madrid's loss.
#3 Barcelona's defensive solidity
Barcelona's exotic style and intricate possession based system of play means that most attention is usually placed on their midfield and attack, with players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele amongst others usually the ones to get all the accolades.
Very rarely is Barca's defence highlighted, as they are usually so dominant in matches that their backline is seldomly tested.
However, El Clasicos are very special sets of matches and both teams' almost equal strength (even though some results don't reflect this) means they are routinely very keenly contested affairs.
Real Madrid possesses numerous world class players capable of unlocking any defense in the world and on the day, they gained control of the match for large periods, keeping Barcelona on the backfoot and leaving them flustered.
Credit must however go to the Barcelona rearguard, as they gave it their all, not afraid to put their body on the line, with Clement Lenglet in particular being the bane of the Madrid attack, going in for challenges and not giving the Madrid attackers a moment's space.
The Blaugrana's defensive solidity proved crucial, especially in the dying stages of the second half, when Real Madrid threw out the kitchen sink in search of an equalizer, but credit must go to Pique and co. for holding their ground and refusing to budge.
Arturo Vidal was introduced late in the second half in place of the more fragile Arthur to shut up shop, and the Chilean was at his destructive best, thwarting any attack Real conjured with his box to box movement, aggressive tackling and all round tenacity coming in very handy.
Barcelona might be more associated with aesthetic and intricate play, but as they showed against Real Madrid, they are also adept at doing the dirty work and on the day, it was their defensive solidity which came to the rescue and granted them all three points.