Despite numerous opportunities for Vini Jr., Barcelona ultimately prevailed.
A fresh appearance Barcelona defeated a Real Madrid squad entering its post-Karim Benzema era 3-0 in the El Clasico to claim victory. Although Ousmane Dembele’s beautiful effort for the game’s first goal ended up being the victor, Barcelona had some concerns going into the game. Starting at the top of the line with Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior had numerous scoring opportunities, but he was unable to convert any of them, even after hitting the crossbar with a penalty. As the game came to a close, Fermin Lopez scored a stunning goal from outside the box to assure that Barcelona would maintain its perfect record in Clasicos played on American soil, and Ferran Torres added a third goal with exquisite ball control.
While Real Madrid is reorganising to not just replace Benzema but also to compete on all fronts following a dismal season by their standards, Barcelona is attempting to defend its La Liga championship. Here are some key learnings from the game, which saw both clubs use lineups that may be regarded as being close to their best for the next season.
DEMBÉLÉ OPENS THE SCORING FOR BARCELONA IN EL CLÁSICO 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ICcg1BBjx3
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 29, 2023
The Vini-Rodrygo pairing needs work.
Real Madrid did have its chances. Vini Jr. had nearly five opportunities to score but failed to take advantage of the consistency of being able to cross the ball to a vicious Benzema, who repeatedly missed the target with his efforts. There will be plenty of opportunities for the pair to score with Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric, Federico Valverde, and Aurelien Tchouameni supporting them, but they were up against one of the best keepers in the world in Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and goals won’t go in if a player isn’t performing at the pinnacle of their abilities. Additionally, they weren’t at their best in this preseason game.
VINI’S PENALTY SMASHES OFF THE CROSSBAR ❌ pic.twitter.com/ECYGNDvUWQ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 29, 2023
Real Madrid had a tremendous day on the offensive end, outshooting Barcelona 25 to 12 and taking nine corners to the Catalans’ four, but Los Blancos hit the post five times during the game. As a result, Madrid leads in the xG score, 3.20 to 0.85, but loses the game handily. Although Barcelona can make the game compact, there were occasions when a more conventional striker would have been helpful. This pair performs best in open spaces. Joselu, who entered the game in the 73rd minute, currently fills that function. There will be high expectations for Real Madrid’s young strikers if Kylian Mbappe is not signed by the end of the current campaign. Although it wasn’t their best performance, this game does demonstrate how deadly Vini Jr. and Rodrygo can be when they’re at their best.
Ter Stegen saves Barcelona
Los Blancos hitting the post throughout the game also helped ter Stegen, who was named the man of the match after making five saves. Barcelona has played with an emphasis on simplicity, but they won’t win many games if they allow 25 shots, particularly while against Real Madrid. Xavi can be content with his squad moving forward, but more defence is required. Ilkay Gundogan and Oriol Romeu, two recent additions who will assist replace Sergio Busquets, were able to accrue playing time, albeit it is troubling that Gundogan was substituted before halfway.
Barcelona now relies primarily on wing play, but to compete effectively in the Champions League, they’ll need to be able to win the midfield battle. Barcelona won’t advance in Europe with performances like this one in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate. Barcelona was able to win in the league last year while playing poorly, but if they are outmatched in European competition, those clubs are talented enough to find a way to win despite Barca having one of the best defences in the world.
Checking in on Sergino Dest
Dest needs to decide this summer if he can join Xavi’s team, and the El Clasico, even in preseason, is the best place to make that decision. Dest struggled to keep up when matched against Vini Jr. after entering the game in the second half. Even if it’s difficult to keep up defensively with the Brazilian, Dest’s progress would have benefited greatly by a couple solid defensive plays. Dest’s future with Barcelona is uncertain, but games like this one increase the likelihood that another loan will be in his near future.
Dest cannot afford the chance of a repeat of the football season between Barcelona and AC Milan from last year. Dest can be a dynamic right back when he is happy in his surroundings, as evidenced by his performances with the national team, therefore if he moves, it must be to the right club.