The most expected game of the season faced off the two best teams in the world on the race for LaLiga tittle, and with the outcome of playing an important role on the next upcoming matches for both squads. And for such a crucial meet, with the classic packed Bernabéu of the big nights, both coaches presented lineups that looked to surprise their opponent in order to reach the Spanish football peak.
Zidane put Marcelo in the left back and Vinícius forward. On the other side, Quique Setién betted for Umtiti as the central defender along with Piqué; Jordi Alba, who was returning from an injury; and Vidal in the wing. This way, both teams presented a fake 4-3-3 that had Isco behind forwards and Vidal in the middle.
First half showed both side´s playing style, as Madrid looked to press high and run for counterattacks while Barça preferred to move the ball hoping to find the space at some point, but that barely happened.
However, both teams prioritized to not make any mistake backward in order to stay alive until the end of the game, which made the first half to be slow and with just a few chances to score. Madrid only had one through a run by Marcelo, who did not see Isco to assist him, and Barça had theirs through a run by Jordi Alba, who passed it to Griezmann, but he shot to the stands, and Arthur, who was left alone right in front of Courtois, but the Belgian keeper made a good save.
Second half changed completely as Madrid improved on their game and forced Barça to fall back. Isco had a couple very clear ones that Ter Stegen saved as the home team was dominating and deserving to score, but they have lived without that since they sold Cristiano a couple years ago. Benzema and Vinícius were connecting with each other constantly, but outside the box, and with this context, the only way they could score was with a bit of luck, but deserved overall. Vinícius received inside the box and Piqué, who is aware of the poor execution by the Brazilian, blocked his passing options and let him to take a shot that the defender deflected and sent to the net to put Madrid ahead.
This time, Madrid made the most out of their momentum and, apart from a chance by Braitwaite, who checked in from the bench for Barcelona, controlled the whole second half and killed the game in the last minute thanks to a goal by Mariano , who had just entered the pitch.
Barcelona and Messi were unable to complicate Madrid as their ball circulation was too slow and did not create any chances on a poor performance that puts Madrid back on top of the table with twelve games left and just one point distance between both teams.