SPORTS DESK : 31 JULY, 2023, 12:04 AM
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-0 in a fiercely contested friendly match on Saturday with an early strike from Ousmane Dembele and late goals from Fermin Lopez and Ferran Torres.
The result was harsh on Carlo Ancelotti’s team, who struck the woodwork five times and created plenty of opportunities. But Spanish champions Barcelona’s more clinical finishing proved to be the difference.
A packed AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’S Dallas Cowboys, witnessed a game which had all the passion and commitment of a real derby despite being a pre-season warm-up.
The crowd were soon on their feet when Oriel Romeu rattled the Real cross-bar with a thundering drive in the fourth minute but Barca soon had their fans celebrating.
A cleverly worked free-kick saw Pedri slide a diagonal pass into the path of Dembele, who expertly drilled the ball into the far corner.
Real had a great chance to get level just five minutes later when Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo handled in the box but Vinicius Junior blasted the penalty against the bar.
The action was non-stop as Rodrygo then forced Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a fine, full-length save with a free-kick that was flying towards the top corner.
The woodwork denied Real again when Vinicius struck the bar and although Jude Bellingham outjumped ter Stegen, the midfielder’s header hit the post.
At the other end, Dembele had a chance for a second after a mistake from Ferland Mendy allowed him to break through on goal, but the French forward’s soft shot was easily dealt with by Thibuat Courtois.
Tempers flared after a sliding challenge from behind from Frenkie de Jong on Eder Militao, with players from both teams scuffling on the half-way line and half-time likely came as a relief for American referee Allen Chapman.
Real’s bad luck continued after the break with Aurelien Tchouameni blasting against the bar while Vinicius continued to torment from the left, poking a shot from a tight angle just wide.
There was no let-up from either side, despite multiple substitutions, but Barcelona’s finishing proved to be the difference with substitute Fermin Lopez making it 2-0 with a brilliant blast from outside the box in the 85th minute after being set up by Sergi Roberto.
Incredibly, Vinicius, after a jinking run in from the left, struck the bar again with his drive from a tight angle and Barca wrapped up the win in stoppage time.
Ferran Torres, ran on to a lofted ball from Lopez, lifted the ball over the advancing Courtois and showed good awareness and balance to turn and slot the ball into the empty net.
– Could have been different –
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez admitted the scoreline flattered his team.
“The result could have been different, the result is a bit misleading, Madrid also had many chances and we shouldn’t be overconfident,” he said.
“The result is very favorable but it doesn’t mean we played a super match. There are many things to improve. It was a very even match in which Madrid also had many chances,” he said.
Xavi also questioned whether he had enough depth for the upcoming season.
“I think Madrid have a much bigger squad than us. At the end of the game they were taking players out and they have many players in the midfield, physical, technical, they have a wide range of possibilities,” he said.
“We tried to play and impose our game and in many moments we succeeded. I am satisfied with the way we competed and in many moments we looked like what we want to be,” he said.
Ancelotti also played down the scoreline and was pleased by many aspects.
“The result is the least important thing. It hurts to lose, but I’ll keep the good things we did,” said Ancelotti.
“We were good in terms of intensity, we had a lot of chances that didn’t go in. Five (against the woodwork) in a game is quite rare, I don’t think it has ever happened to me. But it’s better if it happens in pre-season,” added the Italian. -BSS
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