While it’s unquestionable that Barcelona were fantastic, Real Madrid contributed to their own downfall in their Clásico capitulation on Sunday. Put simply, they took the game too lightly. They were far too preoccupied with going big on contrived anniversary celebrations. Since when was 120 such a significant number? It was all so terribly artificial and, let’s face it, an excuse to flog merch. Hence the black shirt, the polar opposite of the club’s colours. It won’t sell much. Barça also wore a change kit, you might say, not without justification. Yes, but the Catalans did at least sport colours that represent their ‘more than a club’ slogan. It wasn’t the first time they’ve done so at the Bernabéu.
Madrid’s lax attitude was compounded by Carlo Ancelotti’s frivolous tinkering. If the title or the Champions League had been at stake (and that’s us assuming the league is actually won), there’s no way he would have dared to do that. With Karim Benzema unavailable, Ancelotti rejected his natural replacements (Luka Jovic or Mariano Díaz) and his not-so-natural replacements (Marco Asensio, Isco, Gareth Bale…) and experimented with Luka Modric as a false nine. Though he corrected that at the break, he also switched to three at the back - and that just made things worse. He rectified that rectification at 3-0, so we can only blame him for three quarters of the final scoreline, I suppose.
Madrid were far too relaxed; Barcelona weren't
We shouldn’t be shocked that this fine revamped Barça side won at the Bernabéu, but we should be shocked that they won 4-0. It all comes back to the same thing: Barça took the game seriously, from their choice of kit down to the very last decision taken by their least important player. Madrid, drunk on the glory of their magical 15 minutes against PSG (the only period in the tie where they were the better side) and reclining on their comfy cushion in LaLiga, suffered a fatal bout of over-relaxation. Seeing how Xavi has got Barça playing - he’s brought them back to life Jesus-on-Lazarus-style - a Barça win over Madrid by a regular margin would have been no surprise. But 4-0 really grates. And Thibaut Courtois, who as Madrid’s goalkeeper felt Barça’s dominance as acutely as anyone on the pitch, had no hesitation in pointing the finger at his coach.