From the perspective of a Barcelona fan
The El Clásico is always a huge deal. The match-up between the two giants in Spain. This one watched on expectantly as it was the first one in the post-Messi era. Both teams were evenly matched, with Barcelona looking like they had the upper hand whenever they had the ball. However, most of their play appeared to be unfruitful. With crosses being cut off by the Real Madrid defence or their shots failing to hit the target (only 2 out of 12 were on target compared to Real Madrid’s 5 out of 10).
It seems as if Barcelona just lack creativity when attacking. Most of their offence focuses on the left side with Memphis Depay. This makes it easy for their opponents to defend. Since there isn’t anyone dangerous on Barça’s offence that can finish chances when crosses come flying in (Proving to be a terrible tactic with this Barça side). The Real Madrid defence was also disciplined enough to block any attempts at a shot. Barcelona has to think of a better way to go up against teams that like to defend in a low block. Moving the ball around becomes static and predictable. Switching sides and making it hard for the opposing defence to predict our movement will be an improvement. We fail to utilise the right side. As of now, it seems like everyone already knows what we are going to do because we are so predictable in attack (our only goal came from the right, which was where we were not focusing on most of the time).
Now I will move on to individual performances that stood out in either good or bad ways:
Ter Stegen – I am sad to say this, but MATS is no longer one of the best keepers in the world. When in the past, he was our second-best player after Messi. He just seemed to have lost confidence or something after Messi’s departure. We hope he gets back to his very best and gets a confidence boost to save us some points.
Jordi Alba – Having him back gave us a boost. He showed tenacity and pace to disrupt the opposing offence from creating chances and scoring. Even though we saw multiple attempts to cross the ball, they were easy catches for the opposition keeper. We don’t have Messi anymore to convert his cutbacks to goals, so much practice is needed with the new mates in training. The problem of having a left-winger playing in front of him has also sprung up since Alba likes attacking high so much. But since Depay likes to drift in the centre, this does not seem to be as big a problem as when Neymar was still in Barcelona.
Gerard Pique – He was reliable enough. Seemed solid in defence (with 3 aerial duels won) and had a close effort on goal with his header.
Eric Garcia – As of this moment, as Pep Guardiola said, Eric Garcia is just not ready to play for Barcelona. He is good with ball progression and retention. Good with the ball at his feet and can distribute it. But when it comes to defending, it looks like he needs a lot of work to do. The first goal could be argued if it was unavoidable because of the angle and power or whatever, while others say he should have given David Alaba a smaller room to shoot. However, the second goal Real Madrid made should not have been conceded. In a game of small margins, every decision is a big one. With the man behind him, no excuses can be given to Garcia for allowing him to get in front for a simple tap-in. Eric Garcia had to be first to the rebound when the ball was coming closest to him. A really disappointing display from the young centre-back.
Gavi – I will be straightforward with this. Gavi is simply not good enough. Yes, he might have the technical ability of a Barcelona midfielder with his control and passes. But he lacks vision and understanding of the game. Technical ability does not mean anything if you can’t utilise it properly. There were a lot of moments where the attack broke down *because* of him. It was really frustrating to watch. I get that he is still young. But that is not a good excuse whenever he breaks a record of being the youngest ever player for Barcelona or Spain to make an appearance. If you’re not good enough, you should not be playing. Especially as there seems to be a bias for him. Whether it is because his name rhymes with Xavi, I do not know. I rate Riqui Puig over Gavi, and that too pretty high. Puig deserves more game time.
Fati dons the number 10 for Barcelona, the heir to Messi. And in the games he has played, even takes up positions Messi did. There is one problem though, he is not Messi. I like his initiative in shooting the ball and the confidence he shows when the opponents are not parking the bus. But with most teams playing against Barcelona, they will play in a low block and crowd the area in the middle. And if you are not Messi but try to play like him, there is only one outcome to how things will play out. Being so young and not yet standing on his own feet, it is too soon for him to bear the pressure of the gaping hole Messi left. Because one player is not enough to fill it. You can’t hope to replace him. He has to show his worth as an individual player instead of trying to immediately wear Messi’s shoes. Fati is not the answer. Barcelona players have to look at themselves to step up because they cannot just give the responsibility to one man again.
Sergi Roberto – Is not as bad as people make him out to be. Actually plays decent and is used to how Barcelona plays since the Luis Enrique days. As one of the four captains of Barcelona, he should be given more time on the pitch instead of experimenting with certain players again and again. When you can clearly see that it doesn’t work. Does Koeman know the meaning of insanity?
Luuk De Jong – Please keep him on the bench as much as possible. His being on the pitch is the equivalent of being down one more man.
Sergio Aguero – He is the best striker in the team. No, the only striker in the team now that Braithwaite is injured (I am not counting Luuk as one). Came in as a sub and had 2 shots. One was a header that went over the crossbar. Another one was a shot on goal that led to the only goal Barcelona scored. Aguero already looks like the most dangerous player in Barcelona. Hopefully, he stays fit and makes a name for himself in the Barcelona books, just like he did with Manchester City. 🤞