Julen Lopetegui arrived to the Camp Nou under serious pressure but Solari has turned them around by improving their defense and the form of individuals.
It's been 101 days since Real Madrid fell to Barcelona in the first Clásico of the season. That first game saw Real Madrid concede five and saw Julen Lopetegui sacked the next day. With Solari on the bench, Real Madrid earned a valuable 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou that could see them make it to the final thanks to the away goal on Wednesday night. It's the same Madrid team in ways, but appears very different. What has changed in 101 days?
Lopetegui's Madrid arrived into the Clásico in emergency mode. Four points behind Barcelona already, they had a very poor record with six wins, two draws and five defeats. Lopetegui was removed after that scalding at the Camp Nou and Solari arrived with a much better record of 18 wins, one draw and four losses in 23 games.
There are five differences in the two teams that have lined up at the Camp Nou this season wearing white. In Barcelona on October 28, Courtois, Nacho, Casemiro, Isco and Bale started and all five of them were on the bench on Wednesday. Keylor, Carvajal (injured in October), Marcos Llorente (out of the team and plans entirely), Vazquez (Isco and Bale preferred on the wing) and Vinicius (not ready according to Lopetegui) all started on Wednesday with a goal from Vazquez and an excellent display by Vinicius amongst others.
The scorelines were obviously different. In the first game, Madrid melted down in the second half. Curiously though, Madrid had more of the ball in the 5-1 defeat (47%). They had it for 43% of the time on Wednesday. They also have 13 shots in that hammering with four on target while they only had six on Wednesday with two on target. The difference this time round came at the back with Barcelona only had three shots on target with six total shots. In October, they had 11 with eight on target. This version of Madrid under Solari were more than capable of stopping Barcelona at source.
Lopetegui's Madrid came to Barcelona with four losses, a draw and a win in their previous six games. They had also accumulated eight hours and one minute without scoring, which was the worst drought in the club's history. Solari brought a Madrid team to the Camp Nou that had won five in a row and scored 16 times in the process.
And then there is the form of individuals. Benzema has six goals and one assist in his last five games. Vinicius has 10 consecutive starts and Ramos is back to his best too alongside Varane with Keylor Navas proving he is worthy of more playing time too with a number of excellent stops.