Benzema and Real Madrid win the clasico against FC Barcelona

Who else ? On the eve of a Ballon d’Or which reaches out to him, Karim Benzema hoisted Real Madrid to a 3-1 success against FC Barcelona in the 250th clasico in history, Sunday at the Santiago-Bernabéu, allowing the Madrid to take control of La Liga alone.

Benzema opened the scoring in the 12th minute for Madrid, after a Vinicius strike was blocked by Marc-André ter Stegen, then Fede Valverde doubled the lead in the 36th minute, found in the center by Ferland Mendy after a perfectly exploited interception.

Ferran Torres, lonely at the far post, reduced the gap at the end of the match (83rd), but the Blaugranas no longer believed it. And in added time (90th + 1), Rodrygo took charge of transforming the penalty he himself caused to seal the merengue success.

The French center-forward, huge favorite for the Ballon d’Or which will be awarded Monday in Paris, brilliantly won his showdown against the reigning European double Golden Shoe Robert Lewandowski, well muzzled by Eder Militao and invisible to the Bernabéu on Sunday, except for a big missed opportunity in the 25th at the far post.

The only one, almost, for the Catalans. Because in this one-sided match, only Benzema and his family shone.

“Karim, Balon de Oro! »

“KB9” even thought of scoring a double on the return from the locker room (52nd), but his goal was canceled for an offside position on the nice reversal of Vinicius. Frustrating for the supporters, who waited for the final whistle to sing the chants “Karim, Balon de Oro!” (“Karim, Ballon d’Or!”, in Spanish).

For the Merengues, this success comes to avenge the slap received in March during the last clasico won 4-0 by Barça, and comes to consolidate the prestigious individual trophy intended for the goleador Karim Benzema, after a breathtaking 2021-2022 season.

There was no better theater to find the light: after a discreet start to the season and punctuated by two injuries, Benzema finally found the net, a month and a half after his last achievement on the ground of Espanyol Barcelona (2-1), August 28.

Led by a still sparkling Toni Kroos in his role as distributor and an ovation Luka Modric when he left (78th), the Merengues perfectly met the expectations of their supporters. “35, standard of the champion”, displayed the tifo deployed at the Bernabéu before kick-off, in reference to the 35 coronations in La Liga of the reigning Spanish champion (Barça has 26).

Barça, the cold shower

For the Catalans, on the contrary, it’s a cold shower. Leaders of the championship in goal average before this clasico, Xavi’s men were counting on the clasico to revive themselves, after a cruel 3-3 conceded against Inter Milan on Wednesday which pushed them to the gates of the Europa League.

But the Blaugranas, who had not conceded a single goal in La Liga since the one conceded on the second day against Real Sociedad (4-1), sank again at the Bernabéu.

The return of Jules Koundé, who has been absent for the past three weeks due to a left hamstring injury and started on Sunday afternoon, has not changed much of the defensive concerns that plagued Barça against Barcelona. Inter.

Xavi tried everything: the Catalan technician made three changes in the 60th minute, then brought in Ansu Fati in place of Ousmane Dembélé in the 73rd. The young Spanish prodigy nearly equalized acrobatically in the 87th minute, but his failed recovery only grazed the post.

A huge blow behind the head for the Catalans, defeated for the first time this season in La Liga. The appointment is already made for the return match, March 19 at Camp Nou.

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