Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 in a pre-season friendly as part of the Soccer Champions Tour in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 23. Raphinha, Barcelona’s new signing from Leeds United, scored the only goal of the match in the 27th minute.
Both teams played the match with a number of newly signed players. However, Barcelona were the deserving winners in the end. Xavi’s side had more ball-possession and more attempts at goal than Los Blancos.
On that note, let’s take a look at three factors that stood out in the match:
#1 Barcelona dominated the proceedings from the get-go
Barcelona were the dominant team from the very beginning and kept putting pressure on the Real Madrid defense with their high-press. Initially, they tried to attack more through their left flank to test the defensive abilities of left-back Lucas Vasquez, who is more comfortable playing as a left winger.
Ansu Fati tried to cut in from the left flank several times, but Vasquez was able to stop him with the help of Militao. Raphinha also started to feature in the scheme of things with the midfielders playing a few balls towards him. Barcelona kept playing with a high defensive line and often had all 10 outfield players inside the opposition half.
However, for all their dominance, it took Barca 10 minutes to register their first shot on target when Robert Lewandowski was denied by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Despite dominating ball-possession, the Barcelona forwards were often outnumbered in the final third as the Los Blancos defenders kept playing deep and thwarted the moves.
#2 Barca got the goal finally as Real kept relying on counter-attacks
Barca’s high-press finally paid off as it helped them score the goal. Militao, under pressure from the Barca forwards, tried to play a square pass to one of the fellow defenders with his weaker left foot. However, he ended up playing the ball to Raphinha. The Brazilian kept the ball under control and took a rasping shot with his left foot to send the ball past Courtois.
The goal shook Real Madrid up, and they tried to be on the offensive more often. However, they still relied on counter-attacks primarily to test Barca’s defense in the first half.
Their most notable effort in the first half remained Federico Valverde’s shot from 25 yards out that hit the woodwork. Barca became a bit more defensive after taking the lead, but still managed to finish the first half as the more dominant team by some distance.
#3 Both teams made a lot of substitutions in the second half, but neither could score
Both teams came up with a lot of substitutions in the second half. Barcelona introduced the likes of Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong, Frank Kessie and Ousmane Dembele, among others.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, brought in Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio, to name a few. The 2021-22 Champions League winners looked to be in better shape and had more ball-possession with the introduction of their star midfielders.
However, it was the Blaugrana who continued to have better chances. De Jong played with a lot of authority in midfield and orchestrated a few moves. Asensio got a chance to put Real back on level terms, but his feeble effort from inside the box was saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Towards the end of the match, Dembele got the opportunity to score Barca’s second goal, but Courtois foiled his effort. The Real Madrid goalkeeper had to produce a flurry of saves in the dying minutes to prevent his team from conceding more.