Publish: 30 Jul 2023, 12:52 pm
In a hotly contested friendly encounter on Saturday, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-0 thanks to early goals from Ousmane Dembele and late strikes from Fermin Lopez and Ferran Torres.
The outcome was unfair to Carlo Ancelotti's squad, who had five attempts at the woodwork and other opportunities. But Barcelona, the champions of Spain, won because of their more precise finishing.
Despite being a preseason warm-up, the game was played with all the intensity and devotion of a true derby in front of a full AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.
Oriel Romeu's thunderous shot that rocked the Real crossbar in the fourth minute quickly got the crowd up and cheering, but Barca's supporters soon had them dancing.
Pedri skillfully maneuvered a free kick into Dembele's path, who calmly hammered the ball into the far corner.
Five minutes later, when Barcelona's Ronald Araujo handled the ball in the box, Real had a fantastic opportunity to tie the game, but Vinicius Junior mishit the penalty kick.
With a free kick that was soaring into the top corner, Rodrygo next pushed Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a superb full-length save.
Vinicius' shot against the crossbar and Jude Bellingham's header off the post by the midfielder, who outjumped ter Stegen, prevented Real from scoring once more.
Dembele had an opportunity at the other end when Ferland Mendy's error enabled him to get through on goal, but Thibaut Courtois stopped the French forward's weak attempt with ease.
Halftime undoubtedly came as a comfort to American referee Allen Chapman when tempers rose following a sliding challenge from behind by Frenkie de Jong on Eder Militao, with players from both teams scuffling on the halfway line.
After the interval, Aurelien Tchouameni fired against the crossbar while Vinicius continued to harass from the left, shoving a shot just wide from a tight angle.
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.
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.
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