Barcelona won their second straight game in the United States tour thanks to a narrow 1-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
The Blaugrana achieved the victory thanks to a fantastic goal by Raphinha.
It was high-level football for a friendly played in very hot weather.
Overall, Barça were the better team, using possession more efficiently and moving the ball very fast from side to side.
The Raphinha factor
Raphinha was involved in everything good Barca did.
Despite going one-on-one against Antonio Rudiger, one of the best defenders in the world, the Brazilian was a constant danger.
He also scored the lone goal of the match after Éder Militao made a bad pass and gifted the Brazilian the ball in a great position.
Raphinha fired a rocket into the top corner to fire Barca ahead.
After his move from Leeds United, it’s now becoming clear why Raphinha held out for Barcelona’s interest instead of joining Chelsea.
The Brazillian has already collected his second goal for Barcelona.
He did get some help from a bad cross from Eder Militao but that finish was something that can’t be taught.
His movement is also top-class and he is always looking to do something when he gets the ball, which augurs well for Barcelona’s chances this season.
The Benzema factor
Benzema missed the match due to starting preseason late so that he could get an extended holiday.
However, without a recognized forward, Real Madrid struggled in attack.
Over-reliance on Benzema could hurt Real Madrid badly.
Vinicius Junior links well with the Frenchman as the two clearly understand what the other wants to do.
However, without Benzema, Vinicius can struggle to make an impact.
Luka Jovic is now gone to Fiorentina which is why Ancelotti has been testing Hazard as a false nine.
Lack of an adequate replacement for Benzema is probably the biggest weakness for Los Blancos.
It’s something that will need to be addressed as Benzema can’t feature in every game.
Marco Asensio came in for Hazard but had the same issues going up against Barcelona’s defense as he’s more comfortable on the wing.
Hazard looks finished
Eden Hazard is still hoping to find a properly defined role in this Real Madrid squad.
He featured as a false nine as he tries to regains fitness after undergoing surgery to remove a plate in his leg, related to a fracture.
Sadly, Hazard hasn’t been able to make his mark since moving to Real Madrid from Chelsea.
He has only made 66 appearances for Real Madrid so far, scored six goals and assisted 10 more.
Based on yesterday’s display, it looks like a tough road ahead for the Belgian.
Dest Dembele combo
Sergino Dest had a bright showing in the second half when he entered for Ronald Araujo.
While Raphinha was off the pitch, Dest and Dembele combined brilliantly.
They had a telepathic understanding of their overlaps so Dest could power forward and create chances in attack.
The sheer quality of Frenkie de Jong
The most noteworthy aspect of the half from a Barca perspective was Frenkie De Jong once again playing center-back.
He produced a sterling display which underlined his versatility and reminded fans why Barca spent big money on him.
If Frenkie managed to be productive out of position, he can surely find a way to integrate himself into this squad, even if his position has been taken over by Gavi.
Barca created many chances
Even when Barcelona didn’t score, they tested Thibaut Courtois heavily in Vegas.
When Ousmane Dembele came into the match in the second half, he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
Courtois ended up with six saves as Barcelona’s press and attack were relentless.
Barcelona overpowered the midfield of Camavinga and Tchouameni in the first half and Real Madrid didn’t get a shot on target during the match.
There was improvement when Toni Kroos and Luka Modric entered but Barcelona were on a different level.
Even Franck Kessie missed a one-on-one with Thibaut Courtois in the 70th minute.
This bodes well for Xavi who wants Barcelona to play an attacking game with lots of possession.
The football fans over the world must be thrilled with this display of attacking football from the famed Spanish club.
Real Madrid squad
Courtois; Vázquez (Odriozola 70’), Militão (Vallejo 62’), Alaba (Nacho 46’), Rüdiger (Mendy 46’); Valverde (Modric 46’), Tchouameni (Casemiro 46’), Camavinga (Kroos 46’); Rodrygo (Ceballos 70’), Hazard (Asensio 46’), Vinicius (Mariano 70’)
Ter Stegen (Peña 62’); Araujo (Dest 62’), Christensen (De Jong 46’), Eric (Piqué 62’), Alba (Balde 46’); Gavi (Kessie 46’), Busquets (Nico 62’), Pedri (Roberto 62’); Raphinha (Memphis 62’), Lewandowski (Aubameyang 46’), Fati (Dembélé 46’)
Goal: Raphinha (27’)