Why Barcelona Clasico win over Real Madrid matters in LaLiga


What a weekend in European soccer! Barcelona bested everlasting rivals Real Madrid in the most recent Clasico to present themselves a doubtlessly decisive lead in LaLiga’s title race, whereas Arsenal put 4 targets previous Crystal Palace to grab management in the Premier League earlier than the worldwide break. (Don’t write off Man City but, although, as Erling Haaland continues to attain for enjoyable and notched a hat trick in opposition to Burnley in their FA Cup quarterfinal.)

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & extra (U.S.)

Elsewhere, we had speaking factors galore in the Bundesliga — Sunday’s VAR-aided defeat for Bayern Munich means Borussia Dortmund now maintain pole place in the title race — and with Man United, who benefited from Fulham’s self-destruction to advance to the FA Cup semifinals.

Napoli gained once more in Serie A, Lazio and Roma placed on a fiery derby and Chelsea discovered their latest run of kind halted in opposition to Everton in the Premier League. Oh, and Paris Saint-Germain misplaced for the primary time at house in Ligue 11 with Lionel Messi in the lineup, prompting loads of questions on what’s subsequent for this membership.

It’s Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the most important moments in the world of soccer.

Barcelona take a large step in direction of LaLiga title with Clasico win

The broad rule: if the variety of video games remaining is equal or higher to your lead in the desk, you may usually take into consideration placing the champagne on ice. I have never run the numbers on this — I’d assume there are analytics varieties on the market who’ve — nevertheless it appears fairly cheap.

It appears particularly cheap in Barcelona’s case after their 2-1 win over Real Madrid on Sunday evening, which suggests the hole is 12 factors — and never six — with 12 video games remaining. Barca nonetheless need to face the third-, fourth- and fifth-place sides in the desk. But these matches — in opposition to Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad and Betis — are all at Camp Nou, the place Barca have conceded simply twice all season and gained 11 of 13 video games.

Barcelona are in respectable form on the damage entrance, too, with Pedri anticipated to make his return after the worldwide break, which suggests Ousmane Dembele is the one starter sidelined for a big interval. And with no European soccer on the calendar — in contrast to with Real Madrid — it turns into simpler to tempo your self.

On Sunday, Barca fell behind to Ronald Araujo‘s freak personal objective, however however pressed on (as you’d anticipate) and bought the equaliser through Sergi Roberto simply earlier than the break. A draw wouldn’t have been a nasty consequence, but they continued to look extra menacing for a very good chunk of the second half, till Carlo Ancelotti’s substitutions put Madrid in the ascendancy. And positive sufficient, Madrid might need gotten the winner had VAR famous that Marco Asensio was fractionally offside. Instead, moments later, Barca went up the opposite method on the break and Franck Kessie bought the winner.

– Marsden: Barcelona’s a centesimal Clasico win has absolutely settled title race
– Replay: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, LaLiga, ESPN+

Upshot? Had Asensio been lower than an inch farther from the objective, Real Madrid would in all probability have gained, the hole would have been six factors and we might be praising them for his or her persistence and saying they deserved the victory. Instead, the hole is 12 factors and sure, we will say Barca deserved the win. Because that is soccer. Goals (and targets not given) change video games.

Xavi deserves credit score for his defensive matchups, once more placing Araujo at right-back to counter Vinicius and deploying Jules Kounde in the center, the place he pissed off Karim Benzema. Those had been two of Real Madrid’s most important weapons tamed, if not neutralized, and it gave Barca a strong platform from which to function. (Of course, each motion has a counterreaction, and I think one among Ancelotti’s regrets will not be with the ability to exploit the matchups, particularly Benzema in the air in opposition to Kounde. Benzema is an exceptional header of the ball and several other inches taller than Kounde, but he did not get that form of service on the day.)



Ancelotti: Real Madrid unhappy and damage after El Clasico loss

Carlo Ancelotti displays on Real Madrid’s 2-1 loss in opposition to Barcelona in LaLiga.

Ancelotti’s modifications practically did the trick on the finish, however too usually that is how Madrid has felt this season: they have been a workforce of moments and highlights, fairly than a aspect able to imposing themselves on a high opponent on the street.

Stranger issues have occurred in soccer, so you could not wish to crown Barca simply but. But at this stage, no person goes to take the 2022-23 LaLiga title from them — they’d need to throw it away themselves.

Fulham’s implosion propels Man United into FA Cup semifinals, however what a stinker

For an hour or so, Manchester United had been tied up in knots by a Fulham aspect that deservedly took the lead at Old Trafford. United had been at house in opposition to a aspect coming off back-to-back defeats and but managed simply 5 pictures on objective, for a complete xG of 0.40. They had been additionally a objective down, having been outplayed by Fulham for lengthy stretches.

Then all of it fell aside for the guests.

Willian blocked Jadon Sancho‘s goal-bound shot along with his arm, like a keeper may. VAR went to a evaluate and awarded a penalty and a pink card, as per the principles. Aleksandar Mitrovic reacted by placing his arms on the referee, supervisor Marco Silva wandered angrily out of the technical space, and each had been despatched off. Bruno Fernandes transformed the penalty and two minutes later Marcel Sabitzer scored his first United objective to make it 2-1, earlier than Bruno added a 3rd in rubbish time.



Burley: Fulham misplaced the plot vs. Man United

Craig Burley thinks Fulham gamers shedding their mood let Manchester United again in the sport to win 3-1 in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

As self-destruction goes, this one was solely pointless. Maybe Willian’s act was instinctive or uncoordinated; the irony is that had his arm not prolonged away from his physique, he might need intercepted Sancho’s shot anyway, however the response of Mitrovic and Silva, each skilled operators, is tough to forgive. The video proof was apparent, and there was no level in venting your fury at referee Chris Kavanagh — he isn’t the one who requested VAR to intervene.

At 1-1, even a person down, you had been nonetheless very a lot in the sport given how properly Fulham had been taking part in. With 9 males, there was no shot.

– Dawson: Man United seize on Fulham’s frustrations
– Replay: Man United vs. Fulham, FA Cup, ESPN+

From United’s perspective this was a poor outing. Thankfully for them, it was overshadowed by the consequence and Fulham’s shenanigans, in any other case it might need been a speaking level over the worldwide break.

Inter’s Inzaghi, livid with VAR over Juventus defeat, may wish to take a look at his personal workforce as an alternative

Inter supervisor Simone Inzaghi has had a tough trip of late, primarily from his personal followers. Last week, he mentioned of us should not mistake his “good manners” for “a lack of intelligence” and that he’d converse up and get a number of issues off his chest when he felt prefer it. Unfortunately for him, he felt prefer it on Sunday, on the flawed time, following a 1-0 house defeat to Juventus.

Inzaghi was sad that the VAR didn’t disallow Filip Kostic‘s objective. There had been three potential handballs in the buildup — two from Dusan Vlahovic, one from Adrien Rabiot — but one wasn’t punishable, as Vlahovic’s arm was tight to his physique, and the opposite two had been removed from clear-cut, in accordance with the VAR. Frankly, watching it again and again, you are inclined to agree with him.

What was clear-cut, nonetheless was Inter’s horrendous defending on Kostic’s objective, particularly by Denzel Dumfries. Equally clear-cut was Inter’s lack of self-discipline in the second half after they took a ton of pictures, most of them chaotic, desperation makes an attempt.

As for Juve, this was nowhere close to the dominating efficiency some make it out to be. They went a complete half-hour with no single try at objective. They did not create a lot however they held quick when it mattered — together with guys like Federico Gatti, who was savaged by the pundits after some poor early season performances — and now it is 10 wins, one draw and one defeat in their previous 12 video games.

Were it not for the factors penalty — which may but be overturned — they’d be in second place, whereas additionally they have a Europa League quarterfinal and Coppa Italia semifinal to look ahead to. It doesn’t suggest Max Allegri is instantly a genius once more and the long-term reply, nevertheless it does imply he has been a gradual hand after a turbulent begin.

Arsenal’s win was routine, positive, however no much less particular



Nicol praises Saka’s ‘flawless’ efficiency vs. Crystal Palace

Steve Nicol analyses Bukayo Saka’s efficiency in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Sunday’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace was, maybe, predictable. Palace had simply fired Patrick Vieira and had not gained a sport since 2023. Arsenal are high of the desk. And but in some methods video games like these — after getting knocked out of the Europa League, earlier than a world break — are when you may slip up and drop factors, nevertheless it’s apparent this Arsenal aspect have their eyes firmly on the prize.

– Ogden: Saka stands out as Arsenal thrash Palace

Buoyed by an in-form Bukayo Saka — two targets and an help whereas ready to place pen to paper on his new contract — Arsenal had been in cost starting to finish. The hole is as much as eight factors with 10 video games left, although City have a sport in hand and, in fact, there’s the head-to-head on the Etihad on April 26. But each small step takes Arsenal nearer to their first league title in practically twenty years.

Two VAR penalties push Bayern Munich out of high spot

The two VAR penalties, each transformed by Exequiel Palacios, dominated the headlines from Sunday’s sport, however that is solely a part of the story. Against a energetic Bayer Leverkusen, properly marshalled by Xabi Alonso — they now have 5 wins on the spin — Bayern struggled for lengthy stretches regardless of taking the lead.

The second penalty was the results of a rash, bonehead problem from Dayot Upamecano (why would he make that deal with there?), however Julian Nagelsmann’s substitutions compounded Bayern’s issues. Yes, the primary half was disappointing — they took just one shot, Joshua Kimmich‘s objective — however was a triple substitution at half-time (Joao Cancelo, Sadio Mane and Thomas Muller off, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala on) actually vital? Especially with no Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting obtainable to present some heft to the assault?

It felt like Nagelsmann was making some form of assertion, when the textbook factor to do with a 1-0 lead would have been to easily problem the gamers to do higher and, if they do not, make modifications on the hour mark. With Dortmund thumping Koln on Saturday, Bayern are actually some extent again and it is the primary time they’ve discovered themselves in this place at this stage of the season in the previous decade.

Der Klassiker is arising after the break on April Fools’ Day. It’s an opportunity to nostril in entrance once more, positive, but additionally a threat that you will fall behind with out sufficient time to get better.

Tottenham hand over a two-goal lead at Southampton, nevertheless it’s all about Conte’s rant

Hey, if you happen to had been 3-1 up in opposition to the last-placed workforce with quarter-hour to go and watched your aspect retreat additional and additional in direction of their very own objective, defending ever extra limply and finally conceding twice to attract 3-3, you is likely to be indignant too. Possibly as indignant as Antonio Conte was.

The distinction, in fact, is that you simply in all probability aren’t Spurs supervisor, in contrast to Conte, and you are not the one liable for how the gamers play. Which, to be truthful, was overly conservative, tame and hapless, greater than it was “selfish,” on Saturday. Conte, nonetheless, opted to name them egocentric whereas additionally calling out the membership, their tradition and the way in the previous 20 years that they had gained near nothing (properly, one League Cup).



Conte blasts Spurs in sensational postmatch convention

Antonio Conte lets unfastened on Tottenham in a livid postmatch information convention following the 3-3 draw with Southampton.

One paper in England mentioned Conte’s rant could have “saved his reputation more than his job.” That might be proper.

Why? Because many Spurs followers are simply as indignant with the gamers and the house owners as they’re with Conte. They’re properly conscious it has been twenty years of underachievement, and that a number of the coaches who got here earlier than Conte, reminiscent of Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho, made comparable factors, no less than in regards to the house owners. So yeah, the narrative of the confirmed winner who calls out mediocrity and selfishness throughout him could apply (to some, no less than) and Conte merely burnished his fame as an bold perfectionist who calls for excellence.

– Conte slams “selfish” Spurs after Southampton draw
– Ogden: Sack Conte after Spurs rant? They ought to supply him a brand new deal

And sure, it in all probability will not assist him preserve his job, as a result of gamers — a lot of whom have lengthy contracts, actually longer than Conte’s, which expires in three months — do not like being referred to as out in public. Oh, and house owners — the fellows who pay his wage — prefer it even much less.

That mentioned, it is kinda straightforward to “speak truth to power” when you recognize your contract is up in three months. You don’t have anything to lose since you’ve proven, again and again, that you haven’t any downside strolling out on jobs as Conte did at Juventus, at Chelsea, with Italy and with Inter.

Dortmund run rampant and are again on high of Bundesliga

Whatever psychological harm might need come from getting knocked out of the Champions League seems to have been properly and really metabolized by Borussia Dortmund. Saturday’s 6-1 rout of Cologne wasn’t simply wholly deserved; it additionally bolstered how Edin Terzic seems to have discovered, for now anyway, that steadiness that so usually has eluded him in the previous.

Even with out Emre Can and Salih Ozcan, the again 4 felt strong and guarded. Moving Raphael Guerreiro into midfield undoubtedly helps, since Julian Ryerson is a extra dependable defender, and Mahmoud Dahoud, who hadn’t began a sport since August, helped settle the center of the park. With Karim Adeyemi and Julian Brandt nonetheless out, even Donyell Malen bought in on the act with a objective and a few highlight-reel filth.

Most of all, this appears like a workforce able to go head-to-head with Bayern the remainder of the best way.

Haaland on the rampage once more as Man City swat Burnley down in FA Cup

Top of the Championship aspect Burnley play open, attacking soccer. Manager Vincent Kompany selected to not deviate from the script for the journey to face Manchester City away, and the result was predictable: a 6-0 City rout. You’re not going responsible him for it — Burnley’s actual objective is promotion and whereas they’ve 16 factors and a sport in hand over the third-place membership with 9 to go, it is best to not take probabilities, even when which means turning it right into a check of soccer means City are unlikely to lose.

Erling Haaland once more took the headlines, scoring a hat trick inside an hour (and getting promptly substituted). You need numbers? That’s now 42 targets in 37 video games in all competitions, surpassing his private seasonal better of 41, set with Borussia Dortmund in 2020-21.

– Dawson: Haaland’s heroics push Man City into FA Cup semifinals
– Replay: Man City vs. Burnley, FA Cup, ESPN+

Barring damage, he’ll have 15 to 18 video games left this season, so a 50-goal marketing campaign kinda feels greater than probably. Heck, he may even break Dixie Dean’s mark of 65 targets in a marketing campaign, which he set for Everton practically 100 years in the past.

And sure, Haaland remains to be simply 22.

Napoli preserve hovering with the Kvaratskhelia/Osimhen double act



Gab & Juls model Serie A’s runaway leaders Napoli a ‘machine’

Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens sing the praises of Serie A leaders Napoli on “The Gab and Juls Show.”

They make it look really easy.

You’d think about Napoli could wish to decelerate a bit given their big lead, midweek Champions League exertions, the upcoming worldwide break and the truth that they’d gained 10 of their previous 11 video games. And possibly you thought it would occur away to a mid-table Torino aspect who had gained three video games in a row and had misplaced simply as soon as at house since mid-October. But no. Napoli romped to a 4-0 win, with Victor Osimhen scoring twice and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as soon as (Tanguy Ndombele, aka the reply to a trivia query, bought the opposite).

Kvaratskhelia is second to solely Lionel Messi in assists amongst gamers in Europe’s Big Five leagues. Osimhen is second to solely Haaland in phrases of targets.

These guys clearly don’t know the place their ceiling is.

PSG fall once more, and it is laborious to see Christophe Galtier coming again



Kim Kardashian curse!? Laurens rips Galtier after PSG’s loss vs. Rennes

Julien Laurens believes Christophe Galtier’s time at PSG is up after their shock 2-0 loss to Rennes.

You do not wish to say Paris Saint-Germain don’t have anything left to play for however delight, as a result of based mostly on latest performances they’ve proven little. Yes there are accidents on the again, however this merely does not really feel like a workforce as a lot because it appears like Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi (after they present up) and little else (together with Neymar, who has been out since mid-February).

– Soccer’s Kardashian curse? Superstar sees Arsenal, PSG defeats in individual

Capitulating 2-0 at house to Rennes in the best way they did solely ratchets up the chaos and insecurity round this membership. Precisely the form of chaos that supervisor Christophe Galtier was supposed to have the ability to take care of when he was appointed, which is why you think about he will not be again subsequent season even when, as seems probably, they win Ligue 1.

Despite reaching Champions League quarterfinals, Milan are in relegation kind

Saturday evening’s 3-1 defeat at Udinese leaves Milan with 12 factors from their previous 11 video games, which is just about a relegation tempo. That will not occur, clearly, however now even a top-four spot — their minimal goal initially of the season — is in critical jeopardy, and shall be in even higher jeopardy if Juventus’ factors penalty will get overturned.

Against Udinese, they made a string of defensive errors (Fikayo Tomori and Malick Thiaw above all) whereas creating little or no upfront. Their solely objective was a beneficiant penalty, which Zlatan Ibrahimovic transformed to make it into the report books because the oldest participant ever to attain in Serie A.

So a lot for the concept that Stefano Pioli’s swap to a again three final month was some form of resolution. Yes, they gained some back-to-back video games, nevertheless it felt alien to what they had been doing final season and to the talent set of the gamers. And positive sufficient, they’re again to the place they had been below the earlier setup.

The again three was seen as some form of resolution to concede targets when, in truth, that is all the way down to a basic lack of depth all through the workforce because the break. The actual problem, nonetheless, is on the attacking entrance. While their 10-game rolling xG conceded on Jan. 4 was 0.80 and now stands at 1.02, the true distinction is in xG scored: from 1.88 all the way down to 1.07.

Atletico roll previous Valencia as Griezmann shines once more

Atletico Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia might need taken a unique flip if Hugo Duro‘s objective had not been disallowed, however make no mistake about it, this was one other spectacular efficiency for Diego Simeone’s crew, who are actually 10 video games unbeaten. In truth, Memphis Depay may have scored a pair earlier than Antoine Griezmann lastly opened the scoring in the twenty third minute.

Griezmann’s renaissance this season, together with his efficiency on the World Cup, has been gorgeous. It’s not simply returning to Atletico — he was right here final 12 months too, on mortgage — however the truth that he has developed right into a extra rounded participant, able to tackle extra of a management function. And now that Simeone has discovered some form of steadiness in the setup, Griezmann is giving Atleti a unique dimension.

Chelsea held by ‘Burnley-fied’ Everton, however there’s progress



What was lacking for Chelsea in their draw vs. Everton?

Janusz Michallik weighs in on Chelsea’s efficiency after Ellis Simms rescued a late level for Everton at Stamford Bridge.

After three wins on the bounce, Chelsea drew 2-2 at house in opposition to Burnley, however this was a kind of video games in which the efficiency counts greater than the consequence.

Against an opponent that sat deep, clogged area and relied on set items like Sean Dyche groups often do — “we’d all like to play beautiful football, including me… but you’ve got to find ways of affecting the opposition,” he mentioned afterwards — Chelsea had loads of the ball (69%) and tried to do issues with it. Not simply via particular person sparks (although there was loads of that), however via motion and patterns of play.

They didn’t put the sport away, nonetheless, and in the end paid the value for some poor defending in opposition to substitute Ellis Simms.

– Pulisic talks to ESPN: U.S. Soccer, World Cup, membership aspirations and extra

Twice taking the lead and twice being pegged again is disappointing, however Graham Potter is not being judged on that proper now. He’s judged on what Chelsea can do in possession and, by that metric, they confirmed indicators of progress.

Anger and loathing in the Eternal City as Lazio win the Rome derby and Mourinho practically involves blows

Lazio’s 1-0 derby win over Rome has loads to do with two elements: the efficiency of winger Mattia Zaccagni, who scored the one objective, and the 2 pointless bookings picked up by Roma’s Roger Ibanez, who was despatched off after half an hour. It was typical derby fare: a decent sport with loads of ambiance and the proper dose of nasty (the latter as evidenced by Bryan Cristante and Adam Marusic getting themselves despatched off after the ultimate whistle).

In a sport like that, you’d assume that even a person down Roma might need appeared to hold in there, turning their 3-4-2-1 formation right into a 4-4-1 after the pink. But Roma boss Jose Mourinho — properly, not him precisely, since he was suspended, however whoever was operating issues from the bench — went with that scheme solely via half-time, when he took off Paulo Dybala and despatched on a defender in Diego Llorente.

It was a tacit acknowledgement that Roma had been going to accept the draw (and possibly a set-piece objective if it got here to that) fairly than attempting to impose themselves a person down. And they paid a value for it.

Lazio are actually second in the desk; contemplating they’ve the sixth-highest wage invoice in Serie A and so they’ve been with out their star striker Ciro Immobile, it is no small feat. And, in fact, this being the Rome derby, there was extra to return after the sport, with Mourinho turning up in the gamers’ tunnel and clashing with Lazio president Claudio Lotito.

According to Italian media stories, it went like this:

Mourinho: “What the f— are you looking at?”
Lotito: “I’m the president of Lazio… who are you? This is my house… you shouldn’t even be here.”

And off they went. Edifying? No. Entertaining? Yup. If solely the cameras had been rolling.


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