Barcelona dealt what seems to be a definitive blow in their chase to win LaLiga with a 2-1 win over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.
The dramatic victory put the Barcelona 12 points in front of Los Blancos with, coincidentally, 12 matches to go.
Here are four talking points coming out of the match.
Barcelona’s buoyed by two unlikely heroes
When the starting line-ups were revealed, it would not have come as a surprise if a large contingent of Barcelona fans were grumbling at seeing Sergi Roberto in the starting eleven.
The much-maligned veteran midfielder has been a source of criticism given his inconsistent performances throughout his tenure with the Catalan side. But as has been a theme in recent Clasicos, he made his presence felt.
He scored the equalizer moments before the end of the first half, which undoubtedly served to swing the momentum back into Barcelona’s favor. The team seemed to be a bit out of it after starting the game so well only to see it undone by an own goal not 10 minutes in.
The other hero is the man many would have penciled into the starting line-up, Franck Kessié. The former AC Milan midfielder was subbed on in place of Roberto in the second half. He ended up scoring the game winner, being on the receiving end of a pass from Alejandro Balde.
Kessié has had to wait to get his opportunities this season but has, more often than not, taken advantage of them. This is the second consecutive game against Real Madrid where he’s had an effect on the result. In the Copa del Rey, it was his effort that led to the only goal of the game.
On this occasion, it was his goal that could have all but won the league for Barcelona.
Ronald Araújo had his “worst” showing against Vinicius Jr.
Compared to what we saw in the Spanish Super Cup and the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal, Vinicius Jr. ended up getting the better of Ronald Araújo on more than one occasion.
It was Araújo’s header that led to the own goal.
One of the reasons could do with the fact the Uruguayan was more involved in the attack. As opposed to the match at the Santiago Bernabeu, Araújo spent more time in the opponent’s final third and it was his cross, and the resulting deflections, that led to Sergi Roberto equalizing.
As the game progressed, he was able to contain Vinicius Jr. a little better. When the Brazilian did get past, either Jules Koundé or someone from the midfield bailed him out.
Barcelona have had Madrid’s number since the start of the new year
When Real Madrid won their first encounter back in October of last year, the win saw Madrid go three points up in the league. Since then, there has been a 15 point turn around, where they are now staring at a 12-point deficit.
The latest win for Barcelona marks the third consecutive Clasico win for Xavi’s team, taking into account the Spanish Super Cup and Copa del Rey semifinal. This is the first time Barcelona have accomplished this feat since Pep Guardiola was manager.
Given the fact they were missing Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé for two out of those three matches, it has to give Barcelona a boost of confidence heading into these games. The opposite could also be true for Real Madrid who have fielded their best team, at least in name, and have nothing to show for it.
A psychological advantage they are going to use when these two sides meet again in two weeks time for the second leg of the cup semifinal.
Barcelona break their jersey “curse”
On a more lighthearted note, the win for Barcelona broke a bit of a curse so to speak.
Against Real Madrid, Barcelona wore a special jersey that had Rosalia’s logo on it. In their agreement with sponsor Spotify, one of the conditions they agreed on was the club would wear the logo of a musical artist on occasion. They did the same thing with Drake last season.
However, wearing a special jersey for big games hasn’t gone well for Barcelona.
They lost the Clasico last season when they wore the “Drake jersey.” They crashed out of the Champions League when they wore a special kit for that one. The same thing happened in 2021.
The point is that whenever Barcelona try to commemorate a special occasion by wearing a different jersey, it hasn’t gone well for them. This time, they were able to pull out a win and get that off their back.
Whether they’ll do something special in two weeks time remains to be seen.