Missed opportunities haunt Barcelona as Real Madrid take El Clasico

Real Madrid players celebrate against Barcelona. (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid players celebrate against Barcelona. (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Barcelona fall to second in the standings as Real Madrid win El Clasico 2-0.

For the first time since 1975, Barcelona failed to score in either of their league matches against Real Madrid as the Catalans fall 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Vinicius Junior scored the first goal after his shot inside the box on the left-hand side deflected off the foot of Gerard Pique. Mariano sealed the game in added time.

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Barcelona started out slowly with Quique Setién opting for a 4-4-2 with Arturo Vidal in midfield with Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi up top.

His plan seemingly worked as his team had the better of the half in terms of goal scoring opportunities.

Griezmann, Messi and Arthur all had chances to open the score. Griezmann shot high while Thibaut Courtois did well to deny Messi and Arthur on separate occasions.

Barcelona continued maintaining the possession early in the second-half before Madrid took the initiative.

The Madrileños enjoyed a long spell of the ball creating danger whenever they attacked the Barcelona half.

Isco forced an incredible save from a shot outside the box. Madrid kept coming but last minute interventions prevented them from taking the lead.

Moments after Martin Braithwaite entered the game and having a one-on-one denied by Courtois, Vinicius Junior found himself free on the left inside the area. He attempted a cross which deflected off Pique and zipped past the near post guarded by Ter Stegen.

Needing to chase the game, Barcelona were left frustrated as nothing they did worked. In a last-ditch effort, both Rakitic and Fati were brought on but could do little to change their fortunes.

Mariano, who has hardly featured at all for Real Madrid, came in and scored Madrid’s second in the dying minutes of the game.

The win leaves Barcelona looking up at Real Madrid at the table and leaves the club in a precarious position. A win could have all but sealed the league for the Catalans but now need to rely on Madrid dropping points elsewhere in the season.

What will frustrate Barcelona is their lack of finishing in front of goal. Had they taken their chances in the first-half, they could have put the game to bed. Instead they let Real Madrid off the hook and paid for it.

Perhaps even more concerning will be the poor performance, by his standards, of Lionel Messi. The Argentine had a few misses and looked a step or two off. That can easily be attributed to a lingering injury he’s been playing through for some time.

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The loss makes that situation worse because had they won and built a five point lead, they could have rested Messi and let him recuperate. Now, he’ll likely have no time off as they can no longer afford to drop any more points.