Football Features

“Barcelona are definitely back” – Player ratings as Xavi’s men annihilate Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:18, 20 March 2022

In an incredible night of football, Xavi’s Barcelona devastated Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid 0-4 in El Clásico.

The win cuts Madrid’s colossal lead atop the table to 12 points having played a game more. But no one is thinking about the table right now because this was as thorough a beatdown as Barcelona have handed Los Blancos since 2015 but it felt even worse. This was an old-school, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona style of beatdown. A technical, tactical and mental victory for the Blaugrana.

Here’s how the players rated at the Santiago Bernabeu:

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Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 6 – Big early double save from Aubameyang and Dembélé, made several massive interventions to keep the score down even as his defence left him brutally exposed. He shipped four goals but without him it could have been seven.

Dani Carvajal – 4 – Another risible display from the once-great right-back. He’s just lucky that Dembélé played on the right.

Eder Militao – 4 – Looked Madrid’s best chance of creating something in attack as he pushed the tempo well. Defensively he couldn’t cope with the movement and speed of Aubameyang.

David Alaba – 5 – A far cry from the dominance of his first Clásico. Alaba was shuffled around, playing three different positions in the game.

Nacho – 4 – Often performs really well, giving Madrid solidity. Not tonight as Dembélé ripped him apart.

Casemiro – 4 – Got nowhere near Barcelona’s midfield as Pedri gave him the kind of lesson Andrés Iniesta used to.

Fede Valverde – 6 – His surging power from deep looked good value early on but in the end Barcelona starved him of the ball. Still he never stopped fighting and

Toni Kroos – 5 – With all his team-mates being sloppy, he only misplaced a single pass. However he was so incapable of dealing with Barcelona defensively that he was hooked at half-time.

Luka Modric – 7 – Madrid’s best player again. Defended with diligence, drove the ball forward smartly and was at the heart of anything good Madrid did. An ageless marvel, we’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Rodrygo – 5 – High energy but low quality.

Vinicius Jr. – 5 – Electric movement early on but Araujo really nullified him.

READ MORE: La Liga outright winner odds 2021/22

Real Madrid Substitutes:

Mariano Diaz (for Carvajal 46′) – 4 – Added a reference up-front, albeit didn’t impact the game beyond that.

Eduardo Camavinga (for Kroos 46′) – 6 – Got stuck in.

Marco Asensio (for Rodrygo 64′) – 5 – Anonymous.

Lucas Vázquez (for Nacho 64′) – 5 – Didn’t get rinsed like Carvajal.

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Marc-André Ter Stegen – 7 – A calm and composed display from the German who is very slowly getting back to something like his best.

Ronald Araujo – 8 – Put Vinicius Jr. in his back pocket and held him there nicely for the whole game. A mountainous performance from a man who is fast becoming one of Barcelona’s most important players. Laporta better pay up!

Gerard Piqué – 8 – Defended with his usual serenity and composure, which he hasn’t been able to do at the Santiago Bernabeu for a while. “We are back,” said the defender on Twitter, and Guillem Balague echoed that post-match, saying: “Barcelona are definitely back.”

Eric Garcia – 8 – Incredibly solid. Timed his interventions delightfully, constantly on the front-foot and didn’t do anything ridiculous.

Jordi Alba – 8 – Continued his excellent form under Xavi. Wonderful transition defence and put in a few tasty crosses which really should have been converted by his team-mates.

Sergio Busquets – 8 – Busquets always plays well in a Clásico even if no one else in Barcelona colours does, so he was unsurprisingly great again. Won the ball back (4 tackles was a game-high) and recycled possession, sometimes in spectacular ways that should have led to a goal.

Frenkie de Jong – 8 – Frenkie rolled back the years to Ajax 2019 with his performance. Dominated Madrid’s midfield physically and technically, constantly finding space and spreading the ball around.

Pedri – 9 – The best player on the pitch. Dominated the game from start to finish with a performance full of delicious touches and passes. Completed 3/4 take-ons as well as he strolled around the Santiago Bernabeu looking very much like his coach used to. Another golden display from the golden boy, the avatar of Xavi on the field and his philosophy made flesh.

Ousmane Dembélé – 8 – Erratic. Actually for much of the game he was making bad decisions and giving the ball away dangerously, but he also broke the game open with two devilishly good assists.

Ferran Torres – 8 – Very lively. As always his movement was next level and today he had the execution to match it. He had a big miss but made up for it with an unnerving finish to make it 0-3 and a deft assist to make it 0-4. This kid has sky-high potential.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 9 – Missed two great chances across the 90 minutes but still found time to bury Real Madrid with two great goals and an utterly outrageous backheel assist. His presence has provided so much clarity and focus to Xavi’s systems and ideals, and on a free transfer with reduced wages he looks to have been the best signing of the January transfer window anywhere in Europe.


Memphis Depay (for Aubameyang’ 71) – 5 – Really quite average. Full of good intentions and awful execution.

Gavi (for De Jong 71′) – 7 – Got stuck in and showed some very bright moments.

Adama Traoré (for Dembélé 80′) – 6 – Came on a bit too late to really hit his stride. Had he come on earlier, he could have wrought hell.

Dani Alves (for Alba 86′) – 6 – Quite incredibly gave away a pass! 14/15? He’s all washed up!

Nico Gonzalez (for Pedri 86′) – 5 – Ran around and got stuck in.