EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Doubts rising after recent loss of Real Madrid to Barcelona

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Real Madrid 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Clásico marked their third consecutive loss against their arch-rivals. As always, it was a bitter pill to swallow. The result was made worse after Marco Asensio’s late goal being cancelled for offside before Franck Kessie scored the winning goal in stoppage time. Thus, effectively sealing the league title for Barcelona. In this context, there are several questions that need to be answered. Including those that were posed before the match and new ones that have arisen after the defeat.

The starting XI for Real Madrid in the Clásico was the same as the one from the Liverpool game and the Copa del Rey first leg. Ancelotti hoped that if Real Madrid scored early. It would be a different kind of game than the previous one where they had 65% possession but no shots on target. This time, Real Madrid scored an early own goal, which changed the game’s dynamic. Barcelona had 54% possession, and Real Madrid had three shots on target in addition to the own goal. It was a different kind of Clásico.

Ancelotti promised pre-match that Vinícius would be more mobile and not stuck on the left. But his average position was actually closer to the left sideline than in any other Clásico with Araújo at right-back. However, Vinícius was still one of Real Madrid’s most dangerous players and provoked the opening goal off Araújo.

The main pre-match question was whether Real Madrid would win as they had to, and they did push in the final 15 minutes. However, Barcelona took advantage of the space left by Real Madrid and scored a late winner. Nevertheless, Real Madrid can’t be accused of settling for a draw.

Real Madrid not in a favourable position after El Clasico loss

Real Madrid are disputing the offside call that disallowed Marco Asensio’s late goal. While some images provided by the referees were unclear, other more accurate images showed that Asensio was indeed offside. Some suggest that this is a good opportunity to introduce semi-automatic offside technology, as seen in the World Cup.

Ancelotti refused to admit that the La Liga title race is over in his post-match comments. But privately, he knows it’s done. The midweeks now bring Real Madrid’s most important games of the season, in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey second leg. So it’s logical to take it easy in the league fixtures. However, Ancelotti isn’t necessarily the kind of coach to do that, even though he said they would give their all in every game over the rest of the season.

Ancelotti claimed Benzema was 100% fit for the Clásico, but it was evident that he wasn’t. It’s unclear how fit Benzema really is, and he may only be at 80% or 70%. Real Madrid has coped well without him earlier in the season, and he needs a rest to recover properly, which the international break should allow him.

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