Barça’s time is yet to come. The Madrid team is closer because some of its references are still in very good use (the troika in his center of the field and Benzema), because Vinicius seems more done than the Barça schoolchildren and because Alaba was a better market choice than those of Laporta. The Austrian, who has always beaten Barça, was finally the quarterback that Madrid were looking for. He offered his best face in the best possible scenario. At Barça, on the other hand, the tutors of its transition, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis, failed.
The Classic was classic: 4-3-3 against 4-3-3. At Barça, because Laporta was tempted to put it into those statutes subjected to the waves of the assembly on Saturday in case Koeman or whoever comes it occurs to desecrate the holy book of Cruyffismo. In Madrid, by elimination: the week Ancelotti left that lane and committed an improper alignment, the team ended up turning the bell three times. Thus began the Classic, in which the Italian coach, to be a fear theorist, was more courageous than the Dutch: he put a winger (Lucas Vázquez) in a seismic zone (the one that Jordi Alba and Memphis shook) and his colleague repeated with a winger side (Dest), in case it was convenient during the fight to go to a 5-3-2 on the way.
And if the formats were classic, so was the beginning. Barça advanced its defensive line almost to the center of the field. It is the first part of your plan. The second is to reduce the usable surface, force the opponent’s exit through the wings and ambush him there, in that mousetrap that is his first pressure. He knows that everything good happens in the opposite field and everything bad in his own, especially if a rival like Madrid releases his greyhounds. It is also the cult of a style in which the how matters as much as the what, in which the good foot is valued more than the hard leg of a center-back. That extremism is not always justified. There is a remedy for everything. Also for this: the skill in the exit of the ball (and there Kroos has the master key) and the precision of the long game, because the Barça scaffolding collapses before the depth of others.
Vinicius breaks the deck
The first Madrid had no antidote, which fulfilled the worst of the forecasts, the rapid loss and the absence of loopholes for Rodrygo and Vinicius, his eagle patrol. For the second Koeman reserved a double guard: Mingueza plus Dest. They both failed.
It was an ephemeral anguish that of Madrid. What it took Modric and Kroos to see where the hand was going and to reel Vinicius, who came to the game with that face to this that has made him go from the meme to public danger. For him the match was broken. He tapped between Mingueza, Dest and Eric and the first one touched him in the area. A deep gray play, half a penalty. If it whistles, strain. But also. Sánchez Martínez and the VAR voted for the latter. And immediately, an unbeatable Dest opportunity, almost in a small area, unopposed. He sent the ball to the Diagonal. The defender inside him came out.
Bad business to forgive Madrid like that and even worse to let him run. Because in one counter he made music. Two crossed balls, by Vinicius. previous cut, and Rodrygo, ended up leaving Alaba in front of Ter Stegen. His left is not Dest’s right and his soul is not that of a defender either. The cross whip was unstoppable.
The party already had all the doors open, especially those of the Barcelona defense. The most notable thing about Barça before the break was a cross header from Piqué in a corner while Vinicius was always looking for his back to Mingueza, a tormented side. In the intermission Koeman ended his suffering, to put Coutinho and delay Dest. Barça was not made to run backwards. He also gave a more natural air to his attack: Ansu on the left, Memphis on the lead.
Coutinho, the alarm clock
It was better for Barça, which at times broke the stability of Madrid based on drive, nerve and a greater presence of Ansu Fati. The influence of Vinicius was also attenuated, who fell asleep before a gift from Dest, his new sentinel. That certain change in trend did not, in principle, have great practical effects. The most that Barça arrived in those first moments was a simple shot by Ansu Fati at the hands of Courtois, although Coutinho, one of the damned, gave a better air to his game. Madrid, even more shrunken, was closer to the goal, with a high shot from Rodrygo and an off-set volley from Benzema in a fantasy assist from Modric.
At that point, Ancelotti concluded that Madrid needed a more relaxed game: Valverde’s time, a player with legs and sacrifice. He had the goal as soon as he arrived, but he lacked angle.
With him, Madrid slept half the game (it is not his thing and less with Ancelotti, who is more about rock than ballads) without being able to wake up Barça, who pulled Agüero as a last resort and even Luuk de Jong , the air force. The Barça team rarely came out of this palliative solution, due to lack of vocation and habit. A second against, by Asensio, whose shot Ter Stegen rejected so that Lucas Vázquez pointed, lowered the curtain. Agüero’s goal was an anecdote. Koeman already knows that the worst had not yet happened and Ancelotti, that the best, with or without Mbappé, is yet to come.