Barcelona – Match Report vs Real Madrid 24/10/20

Ronald Koeman’s first El Clásico wasn’t one he will be desperate to remember, as Zidane’s veterans were comfortable 3-1 winners at the Camp Nou. The former Netherlands manager looked to youth for his first bout with Real, giving highly rated teenagers Sergiño Dest, Ansu Fati and Pedri Gonzalez starts in their first El Clásico.

Both sides started positively and the breakthrough came early. Teenage sensation Ansu Fati made headlines again as he became the youngest ever scorer in El Clásico history, equalizing for Barcelona almost immediately after Valverde put Madrid ahead five minutes in. The home side started in a 4-4-2 with Fati accompanied by Messi up front, switching into a 4-2-3-1 with Messi in behind as he dropped deep to gain possession later into the game. Los blancos played their usual 4-3-3 with a rock-solid midfield controlling early possession. The pace of the game inevitably dropped over time after a frantic first half which saw both goalkeepers tested numerous times, and it took until just after the hour mark for Zidane’s men to retake the lead. The ever-reliable Sergio Ramos was awarded a penalty by VAR which he calmly dispatched, before Modric sealed the three points in injury time.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Sergiño Dest

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch/American
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 03/11/2000
  • Current club: Barcelona
  • Career: Ajax, Barcelona
  • Position: Right Back
  • Secondary position: Left Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Arguably Barcelona’s best player on the day, at least the standout of the teenagers, Dest looked like an El Clásico regular. The American international was comfortable throughout and put in a confident display from right-back, as he became the first American to feature in the history of the fixture. Dest was excellent defensively, but also showed the attacking qualities the best modern full-backs possess.

Limiting Vincius Jr. to very few chances, Dest defended superbly. He stood up to the winger strongly, cutting passing lanes without allowing the Brazilian to drive towards goal. He forced him into making mistakes, and stole the ball efficiently. The 19-year-olds ability to read the game was particularly striking, with perfectly timed slide tackles and excellent anticipation highlighting just how encouraging he is off the ball. Dest covered his teammates extremely well on a couple of occasions, and most impressively, showed excellent decision making choosing when to stay back and when to go forward.

Upon winning the ball, Dest isn’t afraid to break out from the back with possession and drive into space with a rapid turn of foot. Developed at Ajax, his ability to link with teammates in the attacking third is excellent. He plays simple passes to the creative talent in front of him, although he is more than capable of taking up dangerous positions in the final third himself, and delivering inch-perfect crosses. Dest exudes confidence in possession, going past defenders swiftly and with great control of the ball under pressure. Overall, it was an extremely encouraging and mature display, one that showed exactly why there was so much interest in him during his Ajax days.

Rating – A1

Ansu Fati

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 17
  • Date of birth: 31/10/2002
  • Current club: Barcelona
  • Career: Barcelona
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary position: Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Despite being the youngest ever player to feature in the El Clásico, the 17-year-old looked fearless. Starting as the left striker in Koeman’s 4-4-2, Fati played alongside Messi and the pair linked up effectively, before playing as a lone striker supported by Messi in behind. Showing great anticipation and smart positioning, Fati was perfectly placed to finish a ruthless Barca move after 8 minutes.

Named La Liga’s September player of the month, he continued his great run of form and was a handful for Madrid throughout. Running tirelessly, Ansu constantly pressed the Madrid back line and forced mistakes. After winning the ball back in the final third, Fati’s smooth dribbling allows him to breeze past defenders effortlessly and get into a dangerous position which he so often does.

Considering Ansu Fati has been seen most commonly deployed as a winger, it is surprising that he possesses such excellent goal-scoring instinct. His blistering pace and movement off the ball sees him in great positions to have shots at goal as he consistently looks to break the defensive line and get in behind. On this basis, it is clear that Ansu Fati has the capability to be one of the world’s best and his versatility across the front 4 shows just how dangerous he can be.

Rating – A2

Frenkie De Jong

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 12/05/1997
  • Current club: Barcelona
  • Career: Willem II, Ajax, Barcelona
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Secondary position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

De Jong started in the heart of Barca’s midfield alongside Busquets, and the pair struggled to get a hold of the game and win the midfield battle. He struggled against a compact Madrid field that allowed him very little space to operate, although he did show glimpses of his effortless passing and dribbling skills.

The dutchman was far more effective in the second half, as he dropped back and played as more of a deep-lying playmaker. It is clear De Jong possesses world class ability on the ball, and his intelligence allows him to make it look so easy. A master of playing the game simply, De Jong finds his teammates with ease and never complicates things. He picked up the ball and glided into space, playing simple passes into the front four, taking the pressure off the midfield. De Jong was most effectively seen drawing players out of position, creating space for the attackers, and then releasing the pass. In addition to this, De Jong dribbles with confidence. He never looks uncomfortable on the ball, especially when he was covering for Alba, and was able to gain possession and roll the ball around two challenges in a confined space.

Despite his mesmerising ability on the ball, De Jong was caught out defensively on a number of occasions. Most unlike De Jong, he was rather slow to react in the midfield throughout the game and as a result was dribbled past easily, most crucially by Modric who escaped him on the edge of the box before firing in Real’s winner. Whilst De Jong is able to interpret the game well, he was vulnerable to counter attacks, being too far forward and out of position.

Rating – A2

Pedri Gonzalez

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 17
  • Date of birth: 25/11/2002
  • Current club: Barcelona
  • Career: Las Palmas, Barcelona
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Secondary position: Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Barcelona’s other 17-year-old playing was Pedri Gonzalez, who looked overwhelmed by the occasion. The Spaniard slowly grew into the game in the second half, as he moved inside. Pedri played on the right-hand side of Barca’s 4-man midfield and stayed out wide when they moved into a 4-2-3-1.

The quick and precise passing seen so often seen from Barca’s players was missing from Pedri’s performance. Poor decision making and a lack of instinctiveness on the ball, certainly hindered his impact. Furthermore, he offered Dest very little support when defending, although this can be expected from a youngster playing slightly out of position in such a big game.

Pedri struggled to get into the game at all, he had very few touches and looked scared to make forward runs. The youngster showed glimpses of potential when he came inside with Dest overlapping down the right. Looking more comfortable playing in these central areas, as he linked up nicely with Messi and Fati. It is important to remember though, Pedri is only 17 and was thrown in at the deep end, whilst he was poor, he was played out wide with little support and may take time to develop.

Rating – B2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: