Barcelona is slowly finding its way again, but Real Madrid still has more quality. That was the verdict of the first El Clasico of the calendar year in a Supercopa semifinal which saw Real Madrid emerge 3-2 winners in extra time.
The decisive goal was scored in extra time by substitute Federico Valverde, who finished a deadly breakaway and put Madrid up to stay. Forwards Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior gave Real Madrid two separate leads during regulation with quality strikes, only for Barcelona to fight back through a lucky Luuk de Jong deflection and an Ansu Fati header with seven minutes left.
Real Madrid advances to Sunday’s Supercopa final in Saudi Arabia, where the La Liga leaders will face either Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao. The Spanish Supercopa pits the winner and runner-up of La Liga against the winner and runner-up of the Copa del Rey cup competition.
Real Madrid continues to march on in a dominant season so far under manager Carlo Ancelotti. It has a five-point lead in La Liga — 17 points ahead of Barcelona — and the Merengues are also in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 and the Copa del Rey Round of 16. They’ll hope to come away with the first piece of silverware of the season in the Supercopa final on Sunday.
Barcelona will leave Saudi Arabia content with its display as it continues to make progress under Xavi Hernandez. The team showed character to bounce back and it gained confidence as the minutes went on. Ousmane Dembele and Luuk de Jong made solid contributions in attack, and Ansu Fati had another moment of magic.
Ferran Torres made his debut for Barcelona as a starter in the match, but he had a quiet first half playing on the right wing of a three-man front. Two important players made their return for the Blaugrana: Rising star Pedri played his first match since September, and Ansu Fati was back for his first action since Nov. 6.
Barcelona reaction to Clasico loss
“For the first 20 minutes we still showed a complex from recent times, but we got rid of those complexes and we competed,” said Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez. “We’re not so far from what the La Liga standings reflect.
“We had it. We had it. It was a game that was a coin flip and it turned out one way, but it could’ve turned out another. We’re proud. We competed and we have to continue on this path.
“Although the result is a bad one, and we’re going home, we’re leaving proud. We had the game. I’m leaving sad and angry because we could have won the game. But we competed well and could have advanced to the final. It’s a pity.”
Gerard Pique struck a similar tone to his head coach in his postgame interview: “I think as far as the level of play, we were good. We took risks. We went after the game, we took on a lot of risks. In the end they won the semifinal on a counter on which we could’ve gotten back [to defend]. They came with numbers in the box and scored the third. But I’m very, very proud of the team. Playing like this, we [Barcelona] can begin to win and compete for titles.”
Real Madrid goal-scoring hero Valverde was impressed by what he saw from the opponents: “They’re still Barcelona even if the results haven’t been there. They’re a good team with good players and they showed they have a desire to win … In my opinion, I think we have to convert more of the chances that we get. We could’ve finished off the game earlier. That’s part of the game, and things we can improve on.”
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid final score
25th min.— Real Madrid — Vinicius Junior (Karim Benzema)
42nd min.— Barcelona — Luuk de Jong
72nd min.— Real Madrid — Karim Benzema
83rd min.— Barcelona — Ansu Fati (Jordi Alba)
98th min.— Real Madrid — Fede Valverde (Rodrygo)
(All times Eastern)
Final: Real Madrid 3, Barcelona 2
121st min.: In stoppage time, Barcelona nearly equalizes and then Real Madrid had a chance on the breakaway. That was about to be some finish to this game.
110th min.: SUBS – Abde comes off, and 22-year-old Jutgla is on. Meanwhile, Camavinga replaces Vinicius Jr. who is out of juice.
109th min.: Chance for Barcelona! Abde with the shot that skims wide of the far post. Subs are on their way.
106th min.: Underway for the final 15 minutes. Does this game have another twist in it?
Extra Time (Halftime): Barcelona 2, Real Madrid 3
101st min.: What a rip by Dembele! He fires on goal and goalkeeper Thibault Courtois can only punch it away. Barcelona still has life and an entire 15 minutes of extra time coming up.
98th min.: Goal Real Madrid! They broke out on a 4-on-2 break and Rodrygo cut the ball back to Fede Valverde in the box and he took a touch and finished. Real Madrid up again.
91st min.: SUB – Real Madrid makes use of its extra time sub with Lucas Vazquez taking over at right back for Dani Carvajal.
Regulation: Barcelona 2, Real Madrid 2
93rd min.: Extra time it is. Should be a fun 30 minutes.
90th min.: We have two minutes of stoppage time and extra time looming.
86th min.: What a stop by Thibaut Courtois! A through ball in behind for Ansu Fati and Courtois comes out to challenge to thwart the chance. Barcelona with an air of confidence in these final minutes.
83rd min.: Goal Ansu Fati! It’s 2-2. Cross by Jordi Alba from the left and Ansu Fati gets the close-range header which beats Thibaut Courtois. What a turn of events.
82nd min.: SUB – Fede Valverde comes on for Real Madrid’s Luka Modric.
77th min.: SUBS – Memphis Depay and Nico on for Dani Alves and Gavi. This is the aforementioned kitchen sink coming at Real Madrid.
75th min.: CAUTION – Casemiro gets a card for taking down Gavi. Barcelona getting set to throw the kitchen sink at this with a quarter hour left.
72nd min.: Benzema scores! His first shot on goal was saved by Ter Stegen, but the ball goes right to Dani Carvajal who sends it back in the mixer and Benzema finishes it. Real Madrid back up.
69th min.: Post! Karim Benzema dances around Ronald Araujo and unleashes a left-footed shot off the base of the far left post. Benzema can come up with a moment of magic at any time.
68th min.: SUB – Real Madrid counters with Rodrygo coming in for Marco Asensio, who has been a non-factor in this second half.
66th min.: SUB – Luuk de Jong departs and Ansu Fati is coming on. We’ll see who can get the goals for Barcelona with Ferran Torres and Luuk de Jong out of the match.
54th min.: Dembele fires toward goal again, but this shot finishes wide right. It’s all Barcelona here. Pedri is already making a difference in midfield.
50th min.: Great start by Barcelona. Luuk de Jong gets his head to a Dembele shot and that could’ve taken a dangerous deflection. Barcelona has come out with a spring in its step.
49th min.: What a chance for Pedri! He turns and fires on goal, barely missing the target. He created something out of nothing there.
46th min.: SUBS – EZ Abde is on for Ferran Torres, and Pedri comes in for Frenkie de Jong. Quiet debut for Ferran Torres who had a half chance and not much else. He looked eager, but will need some time to reach best form.
Halftime: Barcelona 1, Real Madrid 1
Halftime: It was all Real Madrid to start and it looked like it was just a matter of time before Los Blancos would score, especially with Barcelona giving away the ball cheaply. And it was Vinicius Junior who got the goal, showing a real connection with forward mate Karim Benzema. But after the goal, Real Madrid backed off and let Barcelona back into the game.
The Blaugrana threatened with a couple of Luuk de Jong headers and then the Dutchman scored a lucky goal, but he was rewarded for his hard work to press the defender. Xavi Hernandez has stuck with him at forward and De Jong has three goals in his last three games; he is playing the center forward position like no other Barca player can. The second half will be a compelling watch.
42nd min.: Barcelona ties it! How’d that go in? Real Madrid defender Eder Militao tries to clear a Dembele cross and it goes off Luuk de Jong, off the post and in! It’s 1-1.
39th min.: Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio gives it another try with the left foot from outside the box. This one at least forces Ter Stegen to work after a deflection off Ronald Araujo.
32nd min.: Another Luuk de Jong header and he bounces it right at Courtois. Good spell for Barcelona.
30th min.: What a chance for Barcelona! Simple cross from the left from Dembele and Luuk de Jong heads it straight at goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Barca hasn’t created much in attack and can’t let too many of those chance slip by.
25th min.: Goal Real Madrid! Karim Benzema pokes the ball away from Sergio Busquets in midfield, then feeds Vinicius Junior who gets in behind Barca’s defense and it’s lights out. Vini Jr just glides by Araujo and roofs it. Madrid in the lead. Vinicius Junior is having some season: 15th goal of the season in his 27th match.
23rd min.: CAUTION – Ferran Torres gets the first yellow for pulling Ferland Mendy’s shirt. Barcelona is pressing high, but it’s not very effective at winning the ball or causing much trouble. Real Madrid players are getting past it pretty effectively.
20th min.: Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior is up for this one. He goes on a sprint after the second Barcelona corner and feeds Asensio, who curls another wide. Vini is wreaking havoc down the left flank.
19th min.: Back-to-back corners for Barcelona. It’s Ferran Torres took one and Dembele the other. Nothing comes of them.
12th min.: It’s Vinicius Junior’s turn to take aim. His shot is on target and Barca ‘keeper Ter Stegen is up to the task. Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo was tracking Vini on his run behind. Barcelona’s attack is non-existent up to now.
11th min.: Ferran Torres is positioned wide right, Dembele on the left and Luuk de Jong as the center forward. Ferran Torres trying a bit too hard to start his Barcelona career.
8th min.: Now it’s Marco Asensio with space to fire a left-footed shot that finishes high. Real Madrid gets forward quick and based on what we’ve seen so far Ancelotti’s men are most likely to score. Barcelona giving away the ball easy.
3rd min.: It’s Karim Benzema with the first attempt of the day after a bad pass attempt and turnover by Dani Alves. The shot goes high and Barcelona gets off easy there. Benzema is hot (22 goals in 25 games) and he’s bound to score if he gets those kinds of looks.
1st min.: We’re off. We’ll see where Ferran Torres lines up for Barcelona.
1:32 p.m. : New Barcelona signing Ferran Torres is ready for his debut, and it comes in El Clasico, nonetheless. The whole squad has arrived at the stadium in Riyadh.
1:25 p.m.: Dani Alves will be plenty motivated to face Real Madrid for the first time since his return.
Supercopa lineups for El Clasico
A day after officially being cleared to register for the club, new signing Ferran Torres will get to start against Real Madrid for his Barcelona debut. He recovered in time from a positive COVID-19 test to travel to Saudi Arabia along with young midfielder Pedri , who starts on the bench.
Luuk de Jong gets the start over Dutchman Memphis Depay , who will be a sub. Meanwhile, Ansu Fati makes the bench but American Sergino Dest , who’s been the subject of January transfer rumors, does not.
Barcelona starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Ter Stegen (GK) – 18-Alba, 4-Araujo, 3-Pique, 8-Alves – 30-Gavi, 5-Busquets, 21-F. De Jong – 7-Dembele, 17-L. De Jong, 19-Ferran Torres
Barcelona subs (10): Neto (GK), Inaki Pena (GK), O. Mingueza, Lenglet, Riqui Puig, Pedri, Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati, Jutgla, EZ Abde
Real Madrid supposedly had a fit squad for this event, but David Alaba felt muscle discomfort after training the day before the match and had to bow out with Nacho taking his place in defense.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti opted for Dani Carvajal over Lucas Vazquez at right back and Marco Asensio over Rodrygo at right wing.
Real Madrid projected starting lineup (4-3-3): 1-Courtois (GK) – 2-Carvajal, 3-Militao, 6-Nacho, 23-F. Mendy – 8-Kroos, 14-Casemiro, 10-Modric – 11-Asensio, 9-Benzema, 20-Vinicius Jr.
Real Madrid subs (11): 13-Lunin (GK), 12-Marcelo, 19-Dani Ceballos, 17-Lucas Vazquez, 5-Vallejo, 15-Valverde, 22-Isco, 25-Camavinga, 21-Rodrygo, 7-Hazard, 16-Jovic
How to watch Barca vs. Real
Wednesday’s Supercopa de Espana semifinal between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and streamed on ESPN+ (subscribers) and WatchESPN (authentication required).
Fans can also stream the ESPN and ESPN Deportes broadcasts via fuboTV , which offers a free trial for new users .
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