The opening 45 minutes saw Barca step themselves into the flow of the match, which led to some early goal scoring pressure from Xavi’s side.
It was an encouraging sight, especially given the absences Xavi had in his lineup (Pedri, Ousmane Dembele) and the unknown performance as a result. But luckily for Xavi, Barca was able to get on the front foot early and often.
However, their momentum was halted early as Barca conceded the first goal on the match, by way of a very unlucky own goal from Ronald Araujo. Vinicius Jr. was the one who got the last touch, as his lofted pass somehow took a weird bounce off Araujo and into the back of the net.
It was a pretty deflating goal, as Barca were feeding off the energy the crowd had provided.
But Xavi’s men knew they had no time to be depressed, they quickly rebounded, and continued to push forward.
Barca creating chances
As a result of theearly pressure, Barca were able to at least threaten Madrid’s net with some clear cut goal scoring chances.
Robert Lewandowski had himself a go early, but his long range shot was punched away by Courtois. Sergi Roberto had a go as well, but his shot didn’t threaten the net as it sailed over the bar.
Raphinha had a go later on as well, but once again, Courtois stepped up to the plate and responded to the challenge.
It seemed like Barca were going to have to create a very clear cut chance to get past Courtois, because the Belgian was once again providing life saving goalkeeping service.
But all impenetrable walls have to fall at some point, and in this case, it was Courtois’ masterclass goalkeeping that fell short at the grace of Barca’s continuous pressure.
Roberto sends the Camp Nou into a frenzy
During first half stoppage time, it was Roberto who finally gave Barca their first goal, therefore ending all previous anxiety goal scoring wise.
The action started with Ronald Araujo, who uncharacteristically made a darting run down the right flank. He then fired a pass into the penalty area, saw it tap around a bit, before finding the feet of Raphinha.
Raphinha looked ready to curl it in far post, but his shot was blocked. The blocked shot fell to the feet of Roberto, who took advantage of an already diving Courtois, and slid it near post with his right foot.
— 𝙈𝙚𝙨𝙝 ²⁴ (@_i27M) March 19, 2023
Given the struggles Roberto has had this season at times, this goal had to feel good for him.
It was also a little ironic, given the fact that Roberto somehow saves his best performances for El Clasicos. Not that Barca is complaining, but it is a little funny in all honesty.
After this goal, Barca went into halftime for a break.
It was all even at 1, with an exciting second half in store. Would Barca finally take control and give the fans something to party about? Or would Madrid spoil the fun and complicate Barca’s league title push?
We got our answer, and let’s just say, Barca were the ones smiling when it was all said and done.
The second half was a little chaotic for Barca.
For starters, Madrid finally started to build their own set of chances, as their dangerous front line kept bringing the pressure for sustained periods of time.
Each time though, Barca were able to step up and fend off their rivals, mostly in the way of crucial defensive actions made by Barca’s stellar defensive back line.
Secondly, Barca had a bit of a scare in the 80th minute, when Marco Asensio appeared to have given Madrid a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes and stoppage time left to go.
But after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was disallowed, as Asensio was offsides by a very small margin before he scored the goal.
Thirdly, Barca somehow found a way to give this heated match an extra ounce of drama, as they somehow came away with a dramatic late goal to seal the match for good.
Franck Kessie gets his moment
What a team goal this was.
Lewandowski was isolated on the left flank, assisting with Barca’s build up. He cut inside, sent a beautiful back heel back pass to the open Alejandro Balde, and from there the excitement began to build.
Balde dribbled a few times, before firing a Jordi Alba esque low driven cross into Madrid’s penalty area. The pass found the waiting feet of Franck Kessie, who then squared himself to shoot a beautiful right footed shot into a wide open net.
هـدف برشلونة الثاني .. كيسيه pic.twitter.com/ZG26K8SHgw
— 𝙈𝙚𝙨𝙝 ²⁴ (@_i27M) March 19, 2023
The Camp Nou exploded, with most if not all of the players from Barca’s bench sprinting onto the pitch to celebrate. Xavi and his staff were ecstatic, which goes to show just how much this match meant to him and the rest of his staff members.
It was also a good moment for Kessie, who has been in transfer rumors for a while now, and hasn’t been consistently giving quality performances on the pitch when needed.
But today, he stepped up in a big way, and gave Barca the moment they’d been looking for.
And at the end of the day, that’s really all you can ask for.
After the goal, Barca held strong for the remaining 2 and half minutes plus some change, sealing their important 2-1 win over Madrid.
What a match, what a late moment, and what a feeling for Barca to be 12 points clear at the top of La Liga.
I mean what a match.
Barca jumped on Los Blancos early and often, but they struggled to find the goal they absolutely deserved. But in the end, Barca found the goals they needed to take home a crucial 3 points, potentially blowing Real Madrid out of the La Liga title race.
The league still isn’t mathematically clinched, as Barca still has some business within the league to take care of before they can officially call themselves champions.
However, tonight’s win was crucial, and will go a long way towards Barca likely winning La Liga.
A 12 point lead isn’t something to scoff at, which is why Barca felt so strongly about winning the match. And that they did.
Kudos to the Culers at the Camp Nou tonight, they were excellent and provided an excellent atmosphere for the players to feed off of.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match won’t come for a while, as the international break is coming up, and will see Barca out of action for two weeks.
After the international break, the Blaugrana will return on April 1st to take on Elche away from the Spotify Camp Nou.
See you all then!
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