The El Clásico clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid never fails to live up to the hype, and Sunday’s match was no exception. Barcelona emerged victorious with a 2-1 win, thanks to Franck Kessie’s late goal, leaving Real Madrid’s hopes of retaining the La Liga title in tatters.
The game was a thrilling encounter that had everything a football fan could want: goals, controversy, and drama. Real Madrid took the lead through an own goal by Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo. However, Barcelona came back strong and equalized just before half-time with a goal from Sergi Roberto.
Both teams had chances to win the game, with Marco Asensio scoring for Madrid but having the goal ruled offside by VAR.
The build-up to the match was overshadowed by Barcelona’s corruption charge in the “Caso Negreira” refereeing scandal. Madrid had joined Spanish prosecutors’ complaint against Barcelona last week, and their president, Florentino Perez, snubbed the game for the first time in over 20 years, adding to the tension between the two Spanish giants.
Xavi’s sixth El Clásico as Barcelona coach but only his first at Camp Nou, he asked fans to make the stadium a pressure cooker, and they delivered, selling out the stadium, whistling Madrid in possession, and creating an intense atmosphere.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 19, 2023
Real Madrid started brightly, with Karim Benzema testing Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the opening minute. However, it was Barcelona who conceded the opening goal of the game through a goal by Ronald Araujo.
Barcelona’s fans became enraged by Vinicius Junior’s emphatic celebration in front of them, but it was Sergi Roberto who leveled the game just before half-time. Selected in place of injured midfielder Pedri, Roberto was in the right place at the right time to control a loose ball in the box and arc it beyond Thibaut Courtois.
The second half was full of action, with both sides having chances to win. Madrid thought they had scored the winner when Marco Asensio struck, but the goal was ruled offside by VAR. Barcelona seemed content with a draw, but Kessie’s last-gasp strike in the 92nd minute sparked wild celebrations at Camp Nou.
The aftermath of the Match
The victory puts Barcelona 12 points clear at the top of La Liga and leaves Madrid’s title ambitions in tatters. When asked if Madrid’s hopes of defending the title were over, Courtois admitted it was now “very difficult.”
But there’s still a long way to go, and Xavi knows that Madrid can never be counted out. “There are a lot of games left, and you can never give Madrid up for dead. 12 points is a tricky distance to have to go, but it’s up to us, and that is good,” he said.
Looking ahead, Barcelona’s next match sees them take on Elche in La Liga on April 1, while Real Madrid will host Real Valladolid the following day in a league encounter. As the season climax approaches, the stakes will only get higher, and the tension will continue to rise. One thing is for sure – this La Liga title race is far from over, and there will be plenty more twists and turns along the way.