Neto’s goalkeeping masterclass could only help Barcelona so much as they fell to a 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid on Saturday.

The world was ready to watch as Barcelona got ready to host Real Madrid for the El Clasico of the season. However, it did not go as planned for the hosts as they were hit for three at the Camp Nou, losing their first home game against Madrid since 2017.

Barcelona were immediately pushed back in the game in the 5th minute as Karim Benzema’s through ball found Federico Valverde in space who made no mistake as he finished it on the far post. Much like Barça, Madrid displayed poor tracking three minutes later as Lionel Messi’s lobbed pass to Jordi Alba met its man perfectly. The Spaniard then squared it to Ansu Fati who pegged Barcelona level from three yards out.

The game was eventful, and quite even for nearly 60 minutes of the game, but it witnessed a sharp contrast from that moment onwards when Clement Lenglet pulled Sergio Ramos down by tugging his shirt. Ramos himself stepped up to take the penalty and scored his 100th goal in the whites of Los Blancos with ease.

From there on, Barcelona were constantly chasing the game, and Ronald Koeman substitutions did not help much either, as Barcelona shifted to a formation that looked like a 3-1-6. Luka Modric made the best of this altercation, making the opposition backline dance as he slotted past the third of the game in the dying moments. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Koeman’s men.

Neto: 9/10

Neto had a huge responsibility on his shoulders starting from the very first game of the season as he was deployed to take charge of the Barcelona six-yard box in the absence of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. While the Brazilian constantly put up impressive displays this season, he reserved his best for Real Madrid.

The 31-year-old made six saves in the game, two of which came in the form of a splendid double save against Toni Kroos who was left frustrated at Neto’s athleticism. Moments later, he was called into action yet again as Lucas Vazquez lifted the ball towards an unmarked Ramos, whose volley was saved by Neto’s calf in an excellent effort. Unfortunately for him, he ended the game on the end of three goals.

Sergiño Dest: 8/10

Inarguably Barcelona’s best outfielder yesterday, Dest was called in as a surprise from Koeman to replace Sergi Roberto in the lineup as the right-back. His immense speed was key in containing the lethal Vinicius Jr and Ferland Mendy in defence. In addition to that, he also put a show in the attack, displaying silky footwork and dodging the continuous tackles by the Madrid defence. A performance like this should cement his spot in Barça’s XI.

Gerard Pique: 6/10

After an initial brainfart in the first half which led to the Real Madrid goal, Gerard Pique looked fairly solid for most of the game and had to deal with unswerving trouble posed by Karim Benzema. That said, the Spaniard was not at the level which he has displayed in countless El Clasicosand was often saved by Neto and Dest in the defence.

Clement Lenglet: 4/10

Game after game, Barcelona fans have started to develop the feeling that Clement Lenglet may not be made for big games and yesterday was yet another example of the same. Firstly, he was often and easily pulled away from his position by Benzema and Marco Asensio in the first half and did himself no favours by tugging Ramos’ shirt during a crucial moment that led to the penalty. A 90 minutes to forget from the Frenchman.

Jordi Alba: 7/10

Jordi Alba was rushed to the starting XI recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered against Sevilla before the international break. However, his addition proved to be solid as he made several attacking runs on the left flank, one of which proved to be fruitful as he registered the assist for Fati’s equaliser. Post that, however, Madrid’s tracked passes to and from him better, and the Spaniard failed to make a substantial contribution.

Sergio Busquets: 1/10

The only word that one can use to describe this performance by Sergio Busquets is ‘disasterclass’. The World Cup winner was at fault during the first goal as he failed to pursue Federico Valverde’s run in the box, but that was just the start of a production going southwards.

Age or complacency? (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Age or complacency? (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Busquets looked complacent in defence, failing to press the Madrid midfielders, and slow while covering for his teammates. He also showed no effort to mark Toni Kroos, who easily pulled the trigger near the edge of the area. His 91.5% passing accuracy, however, deserves a point, the only one he is getting.

Frenkie de Jong: 6.5/10

Frenkie de Jong had to shoulder more responsibility in the attack courtesy of a changed setup by Ronald Koeman and had to advance the ball forward continually. While his first half was excellent, de Jong dropped down several notches in the next 45, and furthermore when Barcelona were chasing the game. That said, he made two key passes and completed 100% of his long balls (2/2).

Pedri: 6.5/10

There was way too much burden on Pedri who was starting his second-ever game for Barcelona, and his first-ever El Clasico, over the likes of Fransisco Trincão, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele. While he showed a fair amount of trickery in the first half to evade his markers, Pedri was ineffective after the half-time.

Lionel Messi: 6/10

Before this game, Lionel Messi had gone six Clasicos without a direct goal contribution, and it only continued this time. Like many of his teammates, he capped off the first half in an exemplary manner, creating Barcelona’s equaliser out of nothing. However, he missed an easy chance as well when he spun Ramos around in the box, but failed to hit the ball past Thibaut Courtois. Needs to do better.

Philippe Coutinho: 5.5/10

Ronald Koeman fielded Philippe Coutinho exactly where he struggled for the majority of the 2018/19 season before his departure – the left flank. Coutinho was unable to carry his momentum in the Clasico, as he missed a huge chance in the first chance to take Barcelona ahead, and was constantly attempting shots when better passing options were available. Placed as the only pivot in the dying moments of the game, the Brazilian could only do so much as he lost Vinicius in the centre, which led to Modric hitting the third of the game.

Ansu Fati: 8.5/10

Ansu Fati has been showing maturity way beyond his years under Ronald Koeman. While he played on the left-wing for the majority of the season, he started and ended the game as a striker yesterday.

When he hit Barcelona’s only goal of the game, the 17-year-old became the youngest ever scorer in El Clasico history and celebrated it by kissing the badge. From there, he also created two chances for his teammates, one missed by Lionel Messi, one by Philippe Coutinho. On any other day, he would have ended the game with three or more goal contributions and a perfect rating. Alas, not to be yesterday.

SUBSTITUTES

Fransisco Trincão: N/A

Subbed on too late, Trincão failed to make any contribution.

Ousmane Dembele: N/A

Came on for Ansu Fati in the last few minutes, failed to make a difference.

Antoine Griezmann: N/A

On the pitch for less than 10 minutes, Griezmann made just one touch on the ball.

Martin Braithwaite: N/A

Came on in the 87th minute, but failed to contribute in any form.

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