Ghana's No. 1

Messi, Griezmann both 5/10 as Barcelona fall flat in El Clasico

Published on: 01 March 2020

Craig Burley and Steve Nicol break down Real Madrid's Clasico triumph over Barcelona.

Sid Lowe examines how Barcelona's new manager is making an impact with the Catalan giants.

Barcelona were knocked off their perch atop La Liga on Sunday as they fell 2-0 to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz sealed the win for Madrid as Barca missed the chance to move five points clear of their Clasico rivals.

Vinicius opened the scoring in the 71st minute via a deflection off Gerard Pique and substitute Mariano, making his first appearance in the league this season, wrapped things up in stoppage time.

Positives

Given the way the game ended, Barcelona will struggle to see the bright side of this Bernabeu defeat given they had won on six of their last eight visits to the stadium. However, when the dust settles they can look back on a decent first half in which they created the better chances.

They're still in the title race, too. Madrid are only one point clear and arguably have the tougher run in.

Negatives

Despite playing well in the first period, they failed to take their chances and that came back to haunt them. Lionel Messi, Arthur and Antoine Griezmann all missed chances they should have scored.

Messi said recently that Barca don't have what it takes to win the Champions League this season and that has rarely been more obvious than in their second-half performance here. They were battered by Madrid for 45 minutes, struggled to escape from their half and it was only thanks to the heroics of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made two stunning saves from Isco, that they weren't behind earlier.

Their defending for both goals was shocking and the midfield was overrun by Casemiro, Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos. Coach Quique Setien desperately needs to find a way to get the best out of Frenkie de Jong.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Setien's conservative lineup (four midfielders instead of three attackers) worked well in the first half but Madrid soon got the hang of Barca after the break. You were waiting for Setien to react, but he waited and waited. Eventually, he turned to Martin Braithwaite and, minutes later, Barca were behind. This will serve as a big learning curve for the 61-year-old.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 -- Once again Barca's best player. His first save from Isco, high to his left, was spectacular. Could do little about the first goal but will feel he could have done better for the second, which snuck in at his near post when the game was all but over.

DF Nelson Semedo, 6 -- Exhilarating in attack but suspect in defence. Perhaps the best player on the pitch in the first half, causing Vinicius and Marcelo all sorts of problems, but caught out of position several times and the opening goal came down his flank.

DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Gave his all but it wasn't enough. Cut out a number of crosses and made one superb saving tackle on Vinicius. Unfortunate to then turn the Brazilian's shot past Ter Stegen.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 5 -- Good on the ball coming out of defence, which is why Setien prefers him to Clement Lenglet, but struggles when it comes to actually defending.

DF Jordi Alba, 5 -- Set up a great chance for Griezmann early on but was poor in the second half on his return from injury.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 -- Along with Semedo, one of Barca's better performers in the first half. Set up a great chance for Messi with a 20-yard lofted through ball.

Lionel Messi had dominated many El Clasicos but in his 43rd appearance in the fixture, he was kept largely under wraps by Real Madrid.

MF Arthur, 6 -- Did well in the first half, playing one great pass between the lines to set up a chance before being denied by Thibaut Courtois when sent through by Griezmann. Disappeared as the game went on.

MF Frenkie de Jong, 6 -- Barca still aren't playing to his strengths. Did OK but was a long way short of his performance at the Bernabeu with Ajax last year. Great run and pass to set up Messi when the Catalans were chasing an equaliser.

MF Arturo Vidal, 5 -- Was hard to tell if he was supposed to be playing as a forward or a midfielder. Didn't do a lot wrong but was not massively involved before being taken off in the 70th minute.

FW Lionel Messi, 5 -- As revealed by ESPN in January, he continues to play with a minor thigh problem. You could tell as much at the Bernabeu. Had two good chances, the first was saved by Courtois and the second was snuffed out by Marcelo, who surprisingly outpaced the Argentine.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 5 -- Missed a superb chance in the first half to open the scoring, firing over when well-placed eight yards out. Also set up Arthur's opportunity but hardly got a touch in the second half.

Substitutes

FW Martin Braithwaite, 6 -- Almost made an immediate impact, racing through only to be denied by Courtois.

FW Ansu Fati, N/R -- Came on too late to make a difference.

MF Ivan Rakitic, N/R -- Like Ansu, he was introduced in the final 10 minutes when Barca were scrambling for a leveller.

Source: espn.co.uk

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