Sometimes luck goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Barcelona must surely feel that way following a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the season.
Ilkay Gundogan put the Catalan side ahead in the sixth minute as a poor clearance from David Alaba rebounded perfectly, leaving Gundogan one-on-one against Kepa.
Barcelona were clearly the better team in the first half. They pressed when needed and their midfield neutralized Real Madrid’s. Opting to play three at the back turned out to be an astute move from Xavi as Ronald Araujo kept Vinicius Jr. at bay.
The Catalans could have doubled their lead when Gavi stripped the ball from Toni Kroos to see it land to Fermin Lopez. He then took the shot only for it to hit off the post. Near the end of the half, Iñigo Martinez connected on a cross from Gavi and that hit the post as well.
Things took a noticeable shift once Jude Bellingham equalized.
Already on a yellow, Xavi decided to take out Ferran Torres in place of Lewandowski. After the equalizer he swapped Fermin Lopez for Oriol Romeu.
While a better striker than Ferran, Lewandowski is less mobile. Romeu has looked poor as the season has gone.
More and more, Barcelona were being pushed back which ultimately led to Bellingham’s equalizer. The inclusions of Raphinha and Lamine Yamal didn’t help matters. Nor did opting to play Yamal on the left.
The dagger came in stoppage time when Bellingham scored the winner.
Barcelona looked it’s most dangerous after that but were unable to get the equalizer.
On another day, those two shots that hit the post go in. On another day, that foul on Araujo gets called and Barcelona get awarded a penalty and get a chance to make it 2-0 before the end of the first half.
After the game, Xavi lamented his team’s lack of finishing and not on the referee decisions.
“Even a draw wouldn’t reflect what we saw on the pitch,” Xavi said after the match. “I think we played a game to win but we lost. A bad result although I think we played a good game. It’s hard but the goal is to win the league and this isn’t over.
“We did not lose because of the referee, we lost because we were not effective.”
If there is any consolation for the Catalan side, it’s that it is only one game. Losing a Clasico always hurts, especially at home, but it is only one game and there is a lot of games left to be played.
The loss puts Barcelona four points behind Real Madrid and a surprising Girona.
For Barcelona, the only thing they can do is put this game in the rearview mirror, try to get either Pedri or Frenkie de Jong back and focus on their next match against Real Sociedad.