The FC Barcelona squad have returned to training this Thursday after a tough week of fixtures, culminating with El Clasico last night. The massive effort from the team ensured they finished the week top of the table. However, despite not losing against Real Madrid, it left a bad taste in the mouth as Barça couldn't find a response to Madrid's system.
Nothing quite went as planned. Valverde didn't expect Isco to start and it caused the original game plan to be torn up. It was an extra man in midfield and with Benzema happy to drop deeper too, it left Barça outnumbered and overwhelmed. Bale spent most of the time outside of the penalty area which at least eased the threat Los Blancos carried.
Barça ended up running a lot more than expected and finished the contest absolutely exhausted. That extra day's rest didn't count for anything as they were pinned back for large periods. Barça weren't allowed the time and space to create meaningful counterattacks. The players themselves were frustrated they couldn't take advantage of home advantage and how they appeared intimidated by their fierce rivals.
There were things Barça couldn't have prepared for either. Sergio Busquets was a late withdrawal after suffering from a fever throughout the day. He took his place on the bench but was in no condition to play. It would have been the perfect game for Arthur to step up but the club must wait for him to find the consistency his game is lacking.
The Ansu effect
Barça saw the performance as one which had plenty of room for improvement. Ansu Fati's introduction lifted the team and with a few more minutes to play, he could have caused damage on Madrid's right-hand side. In just 10 minutes he forced Carvajal to take a booking to stop him running at the defence.
The team has acknowledged their mistakes and are desperate to demonstrate their true potential again.