10-man Real Madrid ended Barcelona’s 39 game unbeaten run with a hard fought 2-1 win in the El Clasico and ahead of the UEFA Champions League first leg quarter-final match against Atletico Madrid, but will the lessons from that game help Luis Enrique’s to a win?
The Catalan side were favourites to win against Rookie manager Zinedine Zidane who had his El Clasico debut but after Karim Benzema cancelled out Gerard Pique’s goal, Cristiano Ronaldo provided the match-winner as he stole in at the far post to squeeze through a right foot shot past Bravo in goal.
That win reduced Barcelona’s lead on the Li Liga table to seven points between them and third placed Madrid while another threat for their La Liga crown is Atletico Madrid who are now only six points behind following their comprehensive 5-1 win over Real Betis at the weekend.
Interestingly, in 2014, Atletico Madrid eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League as Koke’s early goal gave them a 2-1 aggregate win over the Catalan giants after they drew 1-1 at the Nou Camp a scenario that can play out again as Diego Simeone’s men travel away for the first leg.
The Rojiblancos can follow Real Madrid’s El Clasico blue print to try and tame Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez (MSN). The trio looked a little below par performance at the weekend and some suggests fatigue might have played a huge part in their performance after long trips to South America for internationals.
However, Tuesday’s game provides the trio a massive chance to bounce back to their usual best and recent meetings between both sides have been in favour of Barcelona as they have won the last five meetings.
Enrique knows his side cannot afford to be over confident and leave gaps like they did against Real Madrid in the El Clasico. The Blaugrana’s must finish their chances in their usual clinical fashion.
Against Real Madrid, they lost concentration in the last ten minutes of the game and cannot afford to do that against the Rojiblancos who can hurt their backline with the likes of Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann.
Barcelona needs to find inspiration within themselves because like Thierry Henry rightly observed – they will doubt themselves a little but they can’t afford to dwell on the lost at the weekend as Atletico Madrid will be well organized and very difficult to break down.
Luis Enrique said after the El Clasico lost that the MSN are no machines but he will need them at their best if they want to win the first leg with a good margin which will make the return leg easier.