Ancelotti Real Madrid humiliated by Barcelona PLUS PSG misery Serie A tight FA Cup favourites roll

Are Barcelona again? It positive appears in order Xavi & Co. accomplished an emphatic 4-Zero win at rivals Actual Madrid in a most memorable of Clasico clashes on the Bernabeu. Elsewhere, Liverpool and Man Metropolis arrange an FA Cup semifinal date with wins over Nottingham Forest and Southampton, respectively, Serie A’s title race continued to choose up tempo as Milan gained, Napoli gained and Inter Milan’s free fall continued, whereas recriminations ought to start at Paris Saint-Germain and Dortmund as they proceed to underwhelm.

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It is Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the largest moments on this planet of soccer.

Soar to: Clasico fallout | PSG misery | Liverpool keep winning | Bayern roar back | Milan stay top of Serie A | Man City come alive | Dortmund blow it | Inter’s free-fall | Chelsea roll on in FA Cup | Dybala’s Juve future | Abraham, Roma win derby | Atletico won’t quit | Tottenham beat West Ham | Osimhen, Napoli keep pace

Xavi works miracles, Ancelotti’s selections hasten Clasico self-destruction

Precisely 4 months after his first recreation in cost — a 1-Zero derby win over Espanyol — Xavi led his Barcelona aspect to a 4-0 Clasico victory over Actual Madrid of the kind they’re going to be speaking about for years to come back. It was 4; it may have been six, perhaps even eight. However the outstanding half is not Barcelona’s domination of their everlasting rivals (we’ll get to that): It is the best way Xavi achieved the footballing equal of getting an plane provider to do a U-turn in a swimming pool.

– Highlights: Barca thrash Actual Madrid 4-0
– MarcottI: Barca rout reveals how far they’ve come below Xavi
– Xavi ‘cannot rule out title’ after huge Clasico win

With zero teaching expertise in European soccer, a backdrop of perpetual uncertainty (chief government Ferran Reverter’s resignation final month, LaLiga setting their spending cap at subsequent season at almost a billion {dollars} lower than Actual Madrid’s), a nasty contract dispute involving his highest-paid star (free-agent-to-be Ousmane Dembele) with a scrimp-and-save January window … with all this working towards him, he took Barcelona into the highest three and achieved a historic win on the Bernabeu.

You’ll be able to take a look at the person recreation and reward Barcelona (and we are going to), however the broader context and development is extra important (and memorable). Sure, Barca benefited from 4 arrivals in January, however let’s remind ourselves who they’re and the place they had been then arrived. Ferran Torres hadn’t performed membership soccer since September. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hadn’t performed since early December and was suspended by Arsenal for violating crew guidelines amid one of many worst spells of his profession. Dani Alves is 38 and had not performed in any respect in three months. Adama Traore had managed to begin solely half of Wolves’ video games this season.

It isn’t as if it was the 4 Horsemen driving into the Camp Nou; it was 4 guys who wanted a reboot and Xavi supplied it, simply as he did it for the membership as an entire. All of it on the fly, all of it in troublesome circumstances. All whereas staying true to the Barca ethos, albeit including pragmatic touches: Ronald Araujo at right-back to counter Vinicius, Torres beginning vast, however coming inside early and sometimes to clear house for Jordi Alba, Dembele taking part in a key position after some on the membership had been prepared to freeze him out over his unsigned contract extension …

… All of that is Xavi.



Alejandro Moreno explains why Messi leaving Barcelona has been the springboard for younger expertise to develop at Camp Nou.

Barca had been firing on all cylinders on Sunday night time, however there is not any query Actual Madrid made issues an entire heck of loads simpler for them. With out Karim Benzema, Carlo Ancelotti basically had two choices. He may maintain the identical system, changing Benzema with one other center-forward (both a markedly worse model than Benzema like Mariano Diaz or Luka Jovic, or an tailored vast man like Marco Asensio). Or he may assume outdoors the field and give you one thing totally new. He selected the latter, including Fede Valverde to the midfield and pushing Luka Modric into some form of superior tip of the diamond/false 9 position.

Possibly the concept was to bolster the center of the park, maintain the ball and launch Rodrygo and Vinicius on the counter. No matter it was, it did not work. Modric, at 36, was unable to supply any semblance of a press and since Toni Kroos usually acquired sucked ahead alongside him, it left Valverde and Casemiro outmanned towards Barca’s midfield. Vinicius had one harmful run that he capped with a slipshod dive … and that was about it. Rodrygo supplied even much less.

Ancelotti took it on the chin — he may scarcely do in any other case — and at this stage, you marvel what the fallout will likely be.

If you happen to’re the glass-half-full kind, you’ll be able to simply inform your self that there is not any have to overreact. Benzema has been a kind of carrying this crew; with out him they are not just a bit bit worse — they’re loads worse. We knew that. Ancelotti acquired his method all incorrect, and his substitutions made issues worse. We all know that too. However we additionally know that Actual Madrid are 9 factors clear with 9 video games to go and so they have a Champions League quarterfinal developing towards a Chelsea aspect which have issues of their very own. That is not a nasty spot to be in. And positive, this squad wants an overhaul, however we knew that too, which is why they’re shedding hefty salaries in the summertime and have been linked with most of the excessive profile free brokers in the marketplace (none extra so than Kylian Mbappe).

– Hunter: Barca had been good, Madrid should regroup
– Ancelotti: Clasico thrashing “all my fault”
– Moreno: Shedding Messi a blessing in disguise for Barcelona

That is the message Ancelotti will wish to drive dwelling to his gamers and to all of “Madridismo.” Whether or not they purchase it or not, stays to be seen, as a result of a Clasico humiliation at dwelling is not swiftly forgotten, it doesn’t matter what the desk says.

Extra distress for Paris Saint-Germain means it is time to make some choices



Julien Laurens has seen sufficient of Mauricio Pochettino at PSG after their third loss in 4 video games.

PSG had been horrible, once more, at Monaco this weekend, dropping 3-0. And whereas the defeat in itself is irrelevant — they in some way nonetheless have a 12-point lead with 9 video games to go and simply as essential, the perimeters behind them are both poor or inconsistent — the injury being accomplished to morale and picture will not be. It is time to consider subsequent season, not least as a result of that is when golf equipment begin planning their summer time strikes.

– WATCH: Michallik slams PSG stars after “embarrassing” Monaco defeat

Many need Mauricio Pochettino gone, however there is not any level doing it now, see how you are feeling on the summer time. However that is the time to consider whether or not Leonardo needs to be again as sporting director, as a result of that may inform who Pochettino’s substitute is (assuming he goes) and that may decide the summer time strikes.

Anyone new may additionally re-energize some gamers and assist settle down the followers. Certain, they’re nonetheless ready on Kylian Mbappe, however they’ve to simply accept that it is more and more wanting like “Ready for Godot.” Mbappe is the least of their issues; in some methods, 2022-23 begins proper now.

Jurgen Klopp takes the lengthy view, and Liverpool get outcomes

Managers prefer to say what gamers (and sponsors) wish to hear. Jurgen Klopp typically does it too, however to his credit score, his actions communicate volumes.

– Highlights: Liverpool survive vs. Nottingham Forest (U.S.)

The pursuit of a quadruple is a pleasant story and all, and positive, you wish to win each recreation, however for those who take a look at the massive image, it’s a must to prioritize, which is what he did away to Nottingham Forest within the FA Cup. That is why he made seven modifications from the aspect that beat Arsenal final Wednesday and we noticed the likes of Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott, whereas neither Mohamed Salah nor Sadio Mane was on the bench.

It may have price Liverpool — Forest had their probabilities and proved to be a troublesome out — however it was the fitting resolution from Klopp, and he was vindicated. The FA Cup is sweet and all, however the Champions League and the Premier League are how a membership like Liverpool — at this juncture of their historical past — should measure success.

Bayern Munich roar again and return to record-setting tempo, no less than when it comes to objectives

Bayern Munich had dropped a number of notches prior to now weeks, however in Saturday’s 4-Zero demolition of Union Berlin, they confirmed they’ll decide up the tempo even with items lacking.

Of us might level to the return to a again 4 (of kinds), with Josip Stanisic on the fitting or Jamal Musiala‘s stable outing in central midfield. Nevertheless it’s in all probability easier than that: the hole is so huge that it’s good to get all the pieces proper to take factors off Bayern, even once they’re not at 100 p.c.

– Highlights: Lewandowski leads Bayern to huge win (U.S.)

For all of the chin-scratching surrounding Julian Nagelsmann at occasions, this crew is averaging three objectives a recreation, which implies they’re on tempo to set a single-season objective file (102, a mark set by — who else? — Bayern 50 years in the past). Then there’s Robert Lewandowski, who bagged two objectives.

By no means thoughts the fretting over his contract: He has 31 objectives within the Bundesliga this season and 45 general. It’d take some effort, but when he manages 11 objectives in Bayern’s final seven league video games, he’ll break his personal single-season scoring file within the league (which he set simply final yr). And if he manages one other 11 in all competitions (he’ll have anyplace between two and 5 Champions League video games remaining), then he’ll have his best goal-scoring marketing campaign up to now.

By no means thoughts the 1-Zero scoreline: Milan dominated away to Cagliari on Saturday, recording an xG of two.42 whereas managing 21 pictures on objective. Ismael Bennacer scored the one objective, however extra importantly, Milan appeared sharp and efficient towards an opponent who defended deep and appeared to close up store.

The ugly be aware on the finish considerations Milan keeper Mike Maignan, who was racially abused at full-time by quite a few Cagliari followers. It isn’t the primary time this has occurred in Cagliari in recent times — simply ask Moise Kean, Blaise Matuidi or Romelu Lukaku — and the league has opened an investigation, but when there’s a small ray of hope right here, it is that Cagliari seem to have gotten the message.

Fairly than complaining that they are not a racist membership and that Cagliari will not be a racist metropolis (which they’ve accomplished prior to now), they’ve already pledged to determine and ban the offending supporters. To be truthful to them, that is what they did final time, handing out lifetime bans to a few abusers. This must occur once more. It isn’t sufficient to punish golf equipment; they should perceive that their first responsibly is appearing towards their very own supporters once they act like this.

It will not make things better in a single day, as this may take time, however people have to be held to account, simply as a lot as golf equipment.

Man Metropolis come alive after fortunate break to advance to FA Cup semifinals



Shaka Hislop and Nedum Onuoha had been impressed by Manchester Metropolis’s second-half efficiency vs. Southampton.

Kevin De Bruyne lamented Manchester Metropolis’s “too many silly errors” after their recreation over Southampton, and it might sound uncommon to listen to any individual complain after a 4-1 win. However Southampton specifically have proven how they’ll make life troublesome for Pep Guardiola’s crew and to make sure, till half-time, the 2 sides had been evenly matched.

– Highlights: Man Metropolis thrash Southampton in FA Cup (U.S.)

Metropolis picked issues up after the break and noticed out the sport — a talent you want at this stage of the marketing campaign, significantly once you’re battling on two fronts for 2 larger prizes. Liverpool could also be on monitor for the Quadruple, however Metropolis are (quietly) on monitor for a treble. One of many two goes dwelling on April 16, after they meet at Wembley in what guarantees to be an epic semifinal.

Borussia Dortmund drop factors (and possibly title hopes) in Koln

That victory in midweek, once they pulled inside 4 factors of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, had given some hope. What if, after all the pieces they have been by way of this season — accidents, tactical mishaps, Donyell Malen, defensive blunders — they in some way get again within the race?

– Highlights: Dortmund annoyed in Koln draw (U.S.)

Effectively, we needn’t fear about that anymore, and so they threw this away in typical Dortmund vogue. Marius Wolf (whose look suggests he is attempting to do the Erling Haaland “mini me” factor) gave them an early lead, they gifted the opposition the equalizer after which did not impose themselves after the break.

The season is, in some ways, over. They will end second and whereas which will look good on the books, it’ll additionally go away a bitter style for the way all the pieces unfolded (particularly within the cups). Time for severe stock-taking and, maybe, planning for a post-Haaland future.

Inter Milan free fall continues in draw towards Fiorentina

Previous efficiency isn’t any assure of future success — it is the usual disclaimer acquainted to anybody who buys monetary merchandise. Nevertheless it additionally applies in some methods to Inter’s supervisor Simone Inzaghi. In every of the previous 5 seasons at Lazio his groups have tailed off within the second half of the season, and it is occurring once more to Inter, who’ve gained simply two of their final 9 video games. (OK, so a kind of was at Anfield towards Liverpool, however nonetheless…)

In early February, they had been high of the league with a four-point margin and a recreation in hand. Now, they’re third and 6 factors again (they nonetheless have their recreation in hand). What’s modified? Opponents have found out tips on how to disrupt their build-up play (Fiorentina on Saturday did simply that, coming near beating them and settling for a 1-1 draw) and the absence of Marcelo Brozovic makes them much more one-dimensional.

Inzaghi must give you one thing new, or the marketing campaign will peter out.

Chelsea wrap issues up rapidly towards Middlesbrough whereas they anticipate readability on their future



Don Hutchison shares his ideas on Chelsea’s 2-Zero win over Middlesbrough to advance to the FA Cup semifinals.

For a Chelsea aspect going through larger points (so many questions stay over the sale after events submitted bids final Friday) the quarterfinal towards Middlesbrough was merely one thing to get out of the best way with as little fuss as potential. They did simply that, scoring twice within the first half-hour or so and rotating simply sufficient to protect drained legs.

– Highlights: Lukaku, Ziyech see Chelsea by way of (U.S.)

Romelu Lukaku discovered the web, simply as he did in his final begin (additionally within the FA Cup) and in some methods, it reinforces what we already suspect. If you happen to get him service, he might be efficient as a lone striker. However to try this, you really want wingers (Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech began) and meaning no 3-4-2-1, which is Thomas Tuchel’s most popular setup, which is why, proper now, Kai Havertz stays first alternative.

Dybala reveals up for Juventus at Salernitana… sufficient for a brand new deal?

If you happen to needed to be unkind, you would get actually snarky about Paulo Dybala. He is set for crunch talks with Juventus over a brand new contract this week — he is a free agent in June and needs a hefty bump on his present wage — and towards bottom-of-the-table Salernitana, he scores an ideal objective and reveals off his full array of expertise.

Besides, critics might counsel, Juve do not want Dybala for video games like Salernitana. They want him within the Champions League and, alas, he was nonetheless injured on Wednesday once they had been humiliated and knocked out by Villarreal, 3-0.

I’ve pointed this out earlier than, however Juve ought to take the toughest of traces with Dybala. He is 28, that is the final huge contract of his profession, he has missed tons of time by way of harm over the previous few seasons… maintain him, however solely at a value that make sense. Past that, Juve appeared brighter towards Salernitana than they did in latest outings (maybe the extent of the opposition had one thing to do with it) and stay on monitor for a top-four end. Max Allegri will take that as they anticipate higher days.

Abraham leads Mourinho’s Roma to rousing derby win over Lazio

The outdated cliche is that for each Rome groups, profitable the derby is extra essential than what occurs the remainder of the marketing campaign. Put one other method, you’ll be able to stink it up, however so long as you get the higher of the crosstown rivals, you are good within the eyes of the native media and the supporters. It is not fairly that provisional anymore, however Jose Mourinho is aware of all too properly how huge his spectacular 3-Zero win over Lazio will likely be between now and the tip of the marketing campaign.

It helps to purge each the primary derby (which they misplaced to Lazio 3-2), their struggles in Europe (they’re nonetheless alive within the Convention League, however needing an harm time objective to keep away from additional time towards Vitesse Arnhem is nothing to write down dwelling about) and albeit, in Serie A, they’re fifth now, however stay inconsistent.

Tammy Abraham‘s two objectives despatched them on their method and so they may have had extra. There isn’t any doubting the actual fact these gamers imagine in Mourinho; the problem is discovering some continuity between the highs and lows. A top-four end is unbelievable, what you accept is a way that they are shifting in the fitting path, and this win will assist tremendously in that regard.

It was one other “Cholista” victory for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid away to Rayo Vallecano: guts, grit, a pink card, a folks hero discovering the web … and hanging on on the finish. It is working for them within the Champions League and all advised, it is the getting the job accomplished within the league.

– Highlights: Koke’s good transfer to attain for Atletico (U.S.)

This was their fifth straight win in all competitions and so they’ve now opened up a pleasant four-point cushion over fifth place. It helps that the early season pretenders for a Champions League spot — Actual Betis, Actual Sociedad, Villarreal — are all dropping off for various causes.

Tottenham win ‘top-four playoff’ towards West Ham



Janusz Michallik praises the mix of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min after Tottenham gained an important recreation 3-1 vs. West Ham.

OK, it isn’t fairly a playoff for the highest 4, as a result of Manchester United and Arsenal are nonetheless very a lot within the combine for that fourth and remaining Champions League place. However Tottenham’s 3-1 win over West Ham is big, as a result of it opens up a niche and since it breaks the bizarre W-L-W-L curler coaster they had been on (they beat Brighton in midweek) whereas providing glimpses of the place Antonio Conte desires them to be.

The entrance three of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Dejan Kulusevski is clicking properly, Rodrigo Bentancur was efficient in midfield and on the again, Cristian Romero is rising into a pacesetter. There are nonetheless problems with depth and the wingbacks want work. However at this stage, we are able to definitively say Conte was off the mark when, in one in all his grumpy moments a couple of weeks in the past, mentioned there was a “1% likelihood” of Tottenham taking part in within the Champions League subsequent season.

Osimhen does it once more, and Napoli maintain tempo

For the second straight recreation, Victor Osimhen grabbed each objectives as Napoli gained 2-1, downing Udinese to remain three factors behind Milan in second place. I’ve written about his development and Napoli followers will likely be questioning what issues may need been like if he hadn’t missed two months by way of harm earlier this season. On a points-per-game foundation, with Osimhen, Napoli could be first.

The problem now could be to maintain issues going with out him, as a moderately harsh yellow card picked up within the dying seconds towards Udinese means he’ll miss Napoli’s enormous outing after the break free to Atalanta. What’s sure is that Napoli have each a gem and a pacesetter on their palms.


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