Barcelona won the second El Clasico in four days on Saturday, following up Wednesday’s 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu with a close-fought 1-0 victory sealed thanks to Ivan Rakitic’s first-half goal.
The Croatian was a thorn in Real Madrid‘s side throughout as he condemned the home fans to watching another loss to their bitter rivals and effectively killed Los Blancos’ faint title hopes.
Here’s a closer look at his performance.
Goals – 1
Shots – 1
Key Passes – 1
Passing Accuracy – 84%
Dribbles – 2
Tackles – 4
This is the sort of Rakitic performance that can have observers purring. He covered every blade of grass, often ending up in his own box to help out his defence but also making the most telling attacking contribution.
Rakitic’s goal was beautifully taken, as he ran onto Sergi Roberto’s perfectly weighted pass – imagine Lionel Messi not being directly involved in a Barcelona goal? – before lifting it over Thibaut Courtois and into the back of the net. It’s a goal he’ll treasure.
Though his most telling impact was the goal, of course, Rakitic had an influence everywhere on the pitch. His defensive work rate was supreme, and he made some crucial interventions on that end of the pitch. No player made more tackles than his four.
And then there was that goal. A classic midfielder’s forward run, latching onto a wonderful pass from Roberto and a lovely little dink over Courtois. Rakitic has a collection of superb goals; this was no long-range belter, but it’s up there.
Ivan Rakitić has now scored four career goals against Real Madrid; Real Betis are the only club he has scored more against (5).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 2, 2019
Two for Sevilla. Two for Barcelona. All at the Bernabéu. pic.twitter.com/4Rl5TE4c3W
An 84% passing rate isn’t bad, of course, but it did put him at the fourth-lowest mark among Barcelona players who started this game, and he only made one key pass the whole game. For a player who had the joint second-most touches for Barcelona, those numbers show he wasn’t quite doing enough when on the ball.
Of course, scoring a goal mitigates that, but this is also why Barcelona fans can get frustrated – albeit somewhat unfairly – by the Croatian.
Rakitic is often one of the most criticised Barcelona players, though at times it can seem as if the fans don’t quite appreciate what he brings to this team. There was no danger of that on Saturday. His goal won a tight contest in which his side could have been made to rue a few missed chances,.
If the midfielder truly is leaving the Catalan club this summer, perhaps the fans will realise what they’re missing next season. For now, they can just appreciate a Clasico winner.
RATING – 8/10
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