'Dynamic' Raphinha earns Barcelona clasico victory over Real Madrid in Las Vegas

Brazilian scores for second game in row as Lewandowski makes debut for Xavi's side

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Xavi Hernandez hailed his “dynamic” new signing Raphinha after the Brazilian made it two goals in two matches as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 1-0 in the Las Vegas clasico.

Raphinha, who moved to Spain from Premier League side Leeds United earlier this month, followed up his debut strike in the 6-0 thrashing of Inter Miami with the only goal of the game against old rivals Real at the Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders.

The 25-year-old picked up a dreadful cross-field pass across his own box by Real's Eder Militao and cracked a left-footed finish past Thibaut Courtois in the 27th minute. “He made the difference, he is dynamic and he can play on both wings,” said Xavi after the match.

Barca were also able to give Robert Lewandowski his first game for the club and the signing from Bayern Munich was only denied a debut goal by a good Courtois stop.

“Robert is a world-class star, he adapted very quickly,” added Xavi. “I’m happy, the new players will give competition up front and everyone will have to wake up quickly.

“At Barcelona there are no friendlies, there are opportunities, and even more so against Madrid. We want to win, to compete, and we could have killed off the game, but I saw a lot of positive things.

“We can improve, although in terms of our physical level we’re still in pre-season. I am more than happy with the win.”

The fourth time the clasico has been played outside of Spain – and the second in the United States – featured all the intensity of the long rivalry.

Real, who were without star striker Karim Benzema, nearly opened the scoring in the 18th minute but Federico Valverde was denied by the post. The midfielder seized on a poor clearance by Jordi Alba and struck a shot from outside the box that beat Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in the Barca goal, only for the upright to intervene.

Two minutes later it was Barcelona who saw a chance get away when Eduardo Camavinga lost possession to Pedri in front of Real's goal. Pedri found Ansu Fati, who pulled Courtois off his line but put his shot just wide.

Overall it was Barcelona – energised by Lewandowski – who controlled the tempo in the first half against the reigning Champions League and La Liga title holders.

Tempers flared late in the half following Jordi Alba's sliding tackle on Militao that earned a yellow card and resulted in some pushing and shoving, with Madrid newcomer Antonio Rudiger and Barcelona's Ronald Araujo having to be separated.

Lewandowski's night ended without a goal as he was replaced at half-time by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Xavi made wholesale changes to his team.

And former Arsenal attacker Aubameyang had a chance to score just two minutes into the second half but could only head a cross by Raphinha wide of the target.

Substitute Marco Asensio had chance to level for Real just before the hour mark but pulled his shot wide after being set-up by Lucas Vazquez.

Real, though, failed to register a single shot on target in the 90 minutes and can have little complaint about the result in what was their first pre-season friendly.

“We were better on the ball in the second half, said Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti. “In the first half, we defended well and set up with a low block, but we lacked that little bit of quality that we managed to produce in the second half.

“Benzema is the best player in the world and when he's not playing, we obviously miss him,” the Italian added.

Ancelotti's side continue their US tour on Tuesday against Mexico's Cub America at San Francisco's Oracle Park while Barcelona take on Italian giants Juventus in Dallas on the same night.

Updated: July 24, 2022, 11:37 AM
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