Real Madrid For The Double?! Benzema & Kroos Deal Bitter Blow To Barcelona's Liga Title Hopes - 9jaflaver



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Real Madrid For The Double?! Benzema & Kroos Deal Bitter Blow To Barcelona’s Liga Title Hopes




Zinedine Zidane’s side once again proved their mettle by holding of a spirited Catalan comeback to claim a crucial 2-1 win in Saturday’s Clasico

Real Madrid had to grit their teeth and cross their fingers, but they’re used to that by now. They did it throughout last season’s run-in to become unlikely Liga champions.

On Saturday night, in torrential rain at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Zinedine Zidane’s side once again dug deep, this time holding off bitter rivals Barcelona in the Clasico to earn a 2-1 win that puts them top of the table.

It may only be thanks to their head-to-head record with Atletico Madrid, with both teams on 66 points, but this was a huge win for Los Blancos.

Shorn of key centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, there was a lot of pressure on a makeshift defence, but they stood firm despite the dismissal of battle-axe Casemiro late on.

Teenage Barcelona substitute Ilaix Moriba came within millimetres of levelling in the last minute of stoppage time, but his strike crashed back off Thibaut Courtois’s crossbar, leaving the visitors devastated, but the hosts jubilant. 

This was the most important Clasico in years, with both teams in form and fighting for the chance to usurp Atletico, who place Betis on Sunday, at the summit of the standings.

It lived up to the hype, too, with apocalyptic conditions, and the flaws of both sides, resulting in a thrilling and chaotic encounter.

There was nothing flawed, though, about Real Madrid’s opener. It came from a brilliant break, with Fede Valverde leading the charge, before Lucas Vazquez crossed for Karim Benzema.

The French striker had one option only: to go with a backheel at Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s near post. And he pulled it off with the confidence of a player who has scored nine goals in his last seven league games.

He has been Madrid’s key man since Cristiano Ronaldo left and if they win the title again, he will deserve a huge portion of the credit for shouldering the load in attack.

Behind him is a midfield that has won it all but still wants to do it all over again, and it was the in-form Toni Kroos who converted the second with a deflected free kick from the edge of the box.

It was Madrid’s first goal from a free kick in a Clasico since Roberto Carlos in 2000, although the German’s effort was well below the legendary Brazilian’s standard.

Sergino Dest turned his back on Kroos’s effort and the ball slapped off him, with the American proving more of an open gate than a solid wall. Jordi Alba got his head to the ball on the line, but could not head the deflected strike away to safety.

Barcelona wanted a penalty when Ferland Mendy clashed with Ousmane Dembele in the area, and while it fell into the ‘seen them given’ category, the fact is Madrid were good value for their 2-0 lead.

The Catalans improved shortly before the break, with Lionel Messi striking the post directly from a corner and then forcing a sharp save out of Thibaut Courtois.

Aided by a veritable tempest in the second half, Barcelona pulled a goal back.

Jordi Alba’s cross was cleverly dummied by substitute Antoine Griezmann and finished awkwardly, but finished nevertheless, by defender Oscar Mingueza.

That gave the visitors a platform to push for an equaliser, which very nearly arrived in the closing stages, but Madrid, just like last season, when they charged to the title through sheer guts and determination, they withstood Barca’s onslaught.

The Blaugrana now sit third in the table and are only a point behind the top two, but Ronald Koeman’s young side pale in comparison to Madrid when it comes to know-how and title-winning experience.

Zidane’s men come alive in the big games and crucial moments. That is how they won three Champions Leagues in a row and their winning mentality means they are now in a great position going into the business end of the season.

They go to sleep tonight as table-toppers in Spain and, ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Anfield, already have one foot in the Champions League semi-finals thanks to their 3-1 midweek win over Liverpool.

The double is on for Madrid. Doubt them at your peril.

source:- goal



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