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Barcelona vs. Real Madrid score: Franck Kessie winner completes comeback; Blaugrana close in on La Liga crown

Despite making their jobs harder by conceding an own goal, Barcelona have likely all but wrapped up La Liga on Sunday with a 2-1 victory in El Clasico against rival Real Madrid at the Soptify Camp Nou. A 92nd-minute goal by Franck Kessie gave him his first La Liga goal and Barcelona a 12-point advantage atop the league.

Real Madrid started quickly registering their first shot on target less than a minute into the match but they wouldn't get another one for over 70 minutes as Barcelona's defense continued to impress. Real Madrid had hope after a Ronald Araujo own goal in the ninth minute but after asking all the questions in attack, Barcelona finally found their breakthrough right before halftime via Sergi Roberto.

Scoring his first goal in an El Clasico, Roberto took advantage of a ball pinging around the box, driving it past a helpless Thibaut Courtois. Then Barcelona withstood waves of Real Madrid pressure before Kessie called game in stoppage time. In a game where Real Madrid needed nothing less than a victory, the team didn't show fight until a triple change in the 76th minute which didn't leave them with enough time to fend off a dominant Barcelona team.

Has Xavi arrived?

Coaching his first El Clasico at home, it was a victory that had to feel good for Xavi in his third straight win over Real Madrid. This season has been a struggle for Barcelona with the team crashing out of Champions League and Europa League which has created financial uncertainty but Xavi has kept focus on the pitch despite chaos off of it. Already winning one trophy this season in the Spanish Super Cup and in line for two more as things stand, Xavi has brought Barcelona back to the top of La Liga. 

Showing tactical flexibility to defeat Real Madrid despite injuries in Copa Del Rey and then bringing Roberto into the lineup Sunday to help deal with Vini Jr., Xavi isn't stuck into playing a specific way with the team despite also bringing beautiful soccer back to Camp Nou. With the addition of Robert Lewandowski, the team has had a focal point and even on days where he isn't scoring, he makes a difference.

Looking at Kessie's winner, Lewandowski wheeling out caused just enough attention, allowing Kessie a free shot while Xavi also made the game-changing sub showing his knowledge of the squad in the moment.

Defense is critical

Barcelona's success this season has been based on the strength of a defense that held Real Madrid without a shot on target after the first minute of the game until the 79th minute when Benzema again delivered a tame effort toward Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Despite unconventional lineups, Barcelona have only allowed nine goals across 26 matches in league play which is an astounding defensive record. 

Despite an unfortunate own goal, Araujo and Jules Kounde shined containing Real Madrid's wingers and Benzema during the tie. Turning defense into attack, they were also able to support the midfield when needed which makes things smoother in build-up. Holding Real Madrid to only 11 shots and only letting three of those reach the keeper will be a recipe for at least a draw every time.

What's next?

While this is the last meeting between the two clubs in the league, have no fear as another El Clasico is around the corner on April 5. After losing the first leg of the Copa Del Rey semifinal first leg to Barcelona 1-0, Real Madrid will again have to travel to the Camp Nou but this time, a chance to play in a cup final is on the line. With Real Madrid already 12 points behind in La Liga, it will likely be the club's only chance at a domestic trophy this season while Barcelona can sweep their rivals.

With the game taking place over a week before Real Madrid clashes with Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals, Carlo Ancelotti will be able to throw everything he has at the fixture but with three losses in succession, can the team right the ship in time to defeat Barcelona?

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12 points clear

Barcelona may not have needed to win the match but winning doesn't hurt as they're now 12 points clear atop La Liga with only 12 games remaining. With their third consecutive victory over Real Madrid, Barcelona can forget about issues off the pitch for a night thanks to goals from unlikely suspects as Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessie both scored.

March 19, 2023, 10:00 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 6:00 pm EDT
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Frustration is showing 

After a foul by Ansu Fati, Dani Ceballos pushed him before there was a coming together in the box. Both players would receive yellow cards from the affair.

March 19, 2023, 9:58 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:58 pm EDT
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Off the bench with the likely winner!

It's Franck Kessie in the 92nd minute of play! Real Madrid were carved open and Kessie couldn't have picked a better time for his first La Liga goal!

March 19, 2023, 9:53 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:53 pm EDT
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Barcelona's defense collapses so well

Real Madrid are pushing but Christensen and Arauajo made important blocks to stop Los Blancos in their tracks.

March 19, 2023, 9:47 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:47 pm EDT
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And the goal is chalked off

Barcelona are saved by the flag as seven minutes remain in the match.

March 19, 2023, 9:45 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:45 pm EDT
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Asensio stuns Barcelona!

A Carvajal cross finds him to cap off a great team goal but we're going to a VAR review to see if Asensio was offside in the build up.

March 19, 2023, 9:43 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:43 pm EDT
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A shot on target for Real Madrid!

An errant pass from Kounde fell to Benzema who had Real Madrid's first shot on target since the first minute of the match. But shots on target won't be enough for a team that needs a win.

March 19, 2023, 9:41 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:41 pm EDT
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Lewandowski will want that back

While the goal may not have stood, when Lewandowski is in space, you expect the ball to hit the back of the net but his shot was dragged wide as Barcelona still search for a winner.

March 19, 2023, 9:40 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:40 pm EDT
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17 mintues to find a winner

Barcelona have taken 13 shots putting five on target for their one goal while Real Madrid have only seen their first shot from kickoff test Ter Stegan. It's a match where it feels like if there will be a winner, Barcelona will be the team to do that, but Real Madrid can turn the tide with changes.

March 19, 2023, 9:36 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:36 pm EDT
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Rodrygo will enter

Toni Kroos has exited. Ferland Mendy also has come in for Nacho who is on a yellow card. Almost as soon as he entered, an excellent chance fell to Rodrygo's feet that he wasn't able to put on target.

March 19, 2023, 9:24 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:24 pm EDT
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Saved by the deflection

It's all Barcelona and a deflection is the only thing that kept Robert Lewandowski from sinking his shot in the back of the net. Real Madrid has been under constant pressure during the second half.

March 19, 2023, 9:21 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:21 pm EDT
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A rare bad cross from Modric

When execution isn't working, it can impact the entire team which is what if felt like when Modric's cross was just over the head of a jumping Benzema in the box. It's a cross that Modric usually hits but it has been one of those days for Real Madrid.

March 19, 2023, 9:16 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:16 pm EDT
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Close to the dagger

Sergi Roberto's cross was great but Raphinhia couldn't get to it before Nacho leading to a corner that Real Madrid cleared. But Barcelona are beginning the second half how they ended the first by asking all of the questions during the match.

March 19, 2023, 9:13 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:13 pm EDT
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What needs to change in the second half?

For Barcelona, a draw is plenty in the match as it will keep their nine point advantage atop the league intact. Getting an equalizer right before the half couldn't have been better for Barcelona as now everything is in Real Madrid's court. Vini Jr hasn't been able to get the better fo Araujo during the match and that will need to change if Real Madrid will get anything from the match.

March 19, 2023, 9:09 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:09 pm EDT
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Looking at Barcelona's equalizer

March 19, 2023, 9:04 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 5:04 pm EDT
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There's Barcelona's goal!

Sergi Roberto scores after Real Madrid can't clear their lines following Raphinha's shot into the box. It's Roberto's first goal in an El Clasico in what will be the final kick of the half.

March 19, 2023, 8:49 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:49 pm EDT
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Barcelona can't take their chances

Despite havin the advantage in possession, Barcelona hasn't  scored from putting four shots on target so far in the match. Real Madrid haven't been threatening with Barcelona's defense holding strong but it won't matter after already scoring an own goal. Without something soon, Barcelona will go into the half behind providing Real Madrid with confidence.

March 19, 2023, 8:41 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:41 pm EDT
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Excellent from Modric but Real can't take advantage

Modric played Fede Valverde into acres of space but when the pass went to Benzema, the Frenchman couldn't settle for a good shot. This is one that Real Madrid will want back as there was a chance to go ahead 2-0 before the match hit 25 minutes.

March 19, 2023, 8:27 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:27 pm EDT
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Nacho recieves the first yellow of the day

It's for a stamp on Araujo as the game has been back and forth in the early going. With how Barcelona has attacked in the early going, that yellow will make a difference as Nacho can't play defense as tight for the remainder of the clash.

March 19, 2023, 8:22 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:22 pm EDT
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An own goal!!!

Against the run of play, Araujo knocks the ball into the back of hs own ner. A Vini. Jr shot is headed by Araujo past a helpless Ter Stegen.

March 19, 2023, 8:13 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:13 pm EDT
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Barcelona counters

Lewandowski has an impressive efford from outside the box but it is delt with. Real Madrid had a nervy moment as Balde beat Carvajal inn a footrace but it only results in a corner kick. Since Real Madrid's initial effort, it has been all Barcelona.

March 19, 2023, 8:08 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:08 pm EDT
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A fast start

From the kickoff, Karim Benzema has a shot on target less than a minute into the game. While it doesn't trouble Ter Stegen, Benzema is showing Real Madrid's intent in the match.

March 19, 2023, 8:05 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 4:05 pm EDT
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Just over 10 minutes until kickoff

It's almost time for a massive clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

March 19, 2023, 7:48 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 3:48 pm EDT
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Midfield surprises on both sides

Franck Kessie has dropped out of the starting lineup for Sergi Roberto but the changes help Barcelona combat Real Madrid's wingers by moving into a back three when needed. But for Real Madrid, Aurelin Tchouameni not starting puts pressure on Camavinga in the middle to stop Barcelona from countering during the match.

March 19, 2023, 7:19 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 3:19 pm EDT
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Lineups are in

Barcelona: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen; Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, Alejandro Balde; Frenkie De Jong, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto; Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Gavi.

Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, Antonio Rudiger, Nacho; Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric; Fede Valverde, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

March 19, 2023, 7:01 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 3:01 pm EDT
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Barcelona's corruption charges add a new flavor to El Clasico

While El Clasico is a rivalry on the pitch that has produced every type of memorable moment a grudge match could want, Barcelona's recent refereeing scandal has started a new chapter between the clubs. Recently, a rivalry that had once be defined by the games two best players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, going head-to-head, had become somewhat less heated. In some ways, the two teams had even found themselves as unlikely allies against the rest of football, supporting the breakaway European Super League together. That's all over now.

March 19, 2023, 6:30 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 2:30 pm EDT
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Real Madrid team news

avid Alaba is still out because of a hamstring problem but the Austrian is likely to be the only major absentee. Ferland Mendy is back in contention while Karim Benzema's knock against Liverpool was not too serious. Toni Kroos could be replaced by Aurelien Tchouameni while Nacho should keep hold his starting role and Federico Valverde should join Benzema and Vinicius Junior in attack.  

March 19, 2023, 6:15 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 2:15 pm EDT
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Barcelona team news

Ousmane Dembele will remain out for the hosts with a hamstring problem while Pedri is expected to return from the same issue after six games out. Ronald Araujo has served his suspension and should come into the side while Alejandro Balde could edge Jordi Alba at left-back and Gavi could join Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski up top.  

March 19, 2023, 6:00 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 2:00 pm EDT
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Welcome in!

Welcome to the CBS Sports live blog of El Clasico!

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How to watch and odds

  • Date: Sunday, Mar. 19 | Time: 4 p.m. ET
  • Location: Camp Nou -- Barcelona
  • TV: ESPN+
  • Odds: Barca +120; Draw: +240; Real +220 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
March 19, 2023, 4:58 PM
Mar. 19, 2023, 12:58 pm EDT
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