Barcelona took their resurgence under Xavi to another level by thrashing rivals and runaway La Liga leaders Real Madrid 4-0 in El Clasico.
Real Madrid were on their best Clasico run in years, having won the last five meetings in all competitions and started the day 15 points clear of Barcelona in La Liga – however, they were met by a rejuvenated and revitalised Barca, who ripped them apart in every department.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice and provided an assist for Ferran Torres, while Ronald Araujo also headed home in a rampant performance by the visitors. Aubameyang has now scored nine goals in his 11 appearances since arriving from Arsenal.
Former Arsenal striker Aubameyang had already been denied from close range by Thibaut Courtois when he popped up with the opener on 29 minutes, bulleting a header home following a fine run and cross from Ousmane Dembele.
Hello from the finished player 🔵🔴
— AUBA⚡️ (@Auba) March 21, 2022
Real Madrid looked lost without Karim Benzema, who was missing through a calf injury, and it was no surprise when Araujo doubled the lead when heading home from another Dembele cross.
Carlo Ancelotti changed the shape of his runaway league leaders at the break but it did not change the trajectory of the game as Barcelona were soon 3-0 up when Torres spanked home a fine finish following a fine flicked Aubameyang assist.
The one-way traffic towards Courtois’ goal continued and Aubameyang grabbed his second on 51 minutes. His fine finish was originally disallowed for Torres being offside in the build-up but VAR overturned the decision in favour of Xavi’s men.
Barca had several opportunities to extend their lead, but Courtois avoided any further humiliation.
The title might be heading to Real Madrid as they remain nine points clear but this was a famous night for Barcelona, who sent out a clear message to the footballing word: Barca are back.
After his Barcelona side produced a first Clasico victory in seven attempts – they had lost their last five meetings – Xavi Hernandez said: “We’re very happy, very satisfied for all the Barca supporters.
“The meaning of this victory, I think it can change, more or less, the dynamics of the present and also of the future. That’s the first thing I want to say. As far as the game, we had understood that [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos were out, and we looked for the backs of the interior players of Real Madrid.
“[David] Alaba was also jumping on Frenkie [de Jong], and then Ousmane [Dembele] was one against one. We have shown a lot of personality. I asked the players, I told them it was a game to have a lot of personality, to be bold, not to lose the ball.
It was Real’s first home defeat of the season, in the midst of their 120th-anniversary celebrations.
Xavi added: “I asked them not to lose any silly balls, because that’s what Madrid takes advantage of, and we have reinforced it with the transitions and [Ronald] Araujo defending Vinicius. So the game has been under control. We have been in control with [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang.
“We have understood that we have to read between the lines. We have recovered many balls from the opposition. We have created many chances with attacking moves. I think we have been far superior to Real Madrid and we could have scored even more goals.
“It’s very difficult to win 4-0 at the Bernabeu playing so well, and I’m very happy for the players, because some of them were going through difficult times in their careers. They were criticised and judged, and today they have proved they are wonderful players.
“They have personalities, they are bold, and this is the way forward. As a coach I am new, and winning 4-0 at the Bernabeu reinforces my role. It reinforces the project, the idea of the game, the model of the game we want to follow. We have no doubt that Barca should compete playing the way we have played tonight.”
Carlo Ancelotti took responsibility after Real’s four-game winning run in La Liga came to an emphatic end.
“My strategy has not been good. It didn’t get a very good result. I don’t know, that’s all. I have not made a good strategy in trying to defeat Barca. Barca have played better than we have played and they deserved the victory.
“It’s not a problem to take on the responsibility, because I didn’t prepare for the game correctly. Sometimes you do it correctly, sometimes you don’t.
“I failed in this game, but I’m not making a drama out of it. It’s a defeat, yes. We know how important it is to win a game against Barca, especially for the supporters. We are very sorry, but we have to keep working, move forward and to prepare our game over the next couple of weeks.
“We should keep calm and stay balanced, because of course, we are very down after this defeat, but we have to think that we have nine points advantage (over Sevilla at the top of the standings). We should be calm and keep calm.”
Real Madrid are back in action after the international break with a trip to Celta Vigo on April 2 (5.30pm kick off) before facing Chelsea in their Champions League quarter final first-leg four days later, while Barcelona host Sevilla on April 3 (8.30pm kick off).
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