Robbed of the ball and their identity but still alive and victorious

It was like a game from an alternate reality: Barcelona, despite being everything but themselves, have won the day

Rarely do Barcelona win their games completely due to the quality of their defence. Even in the glorious Pep Guardiola days with counter-pressing galore, winning solely because you defended (or pressed) well was a rarity. However, tonight against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, that was truly the case.

In fact, this game felt like a dark alternate reality in its entirety. One team had 65% possession, 13 shots and 680 passes but only one big chance created, no shots on target and most importantly, no goals scored. The other team had 35% possession, four shots and 380 total passes. However, they managed to create two big chances, had two shots on target and crucially, scored the solitary (own)goal to give them the win. Now, had you not watched the game, which team would you think was Barcelona? Exactly.

These statistics - and the eye test - depict a typical Barcelona game in which they dominate the ball, pin the opposition back and sustain pressure for 90 minutes before the opposition inevitably scores from an own goal somewhere along the way. But not in this twisted reality. No, in this reality, Barcelona are the team who park the bus, weather the storm, score a silly goal and… Win the game. It’s not pretty, it’s not part of the controversial Barça DNA and it surely isn’t what we’re used to seeing from the Catalans. But tonight, it was the right call.