Real Madrid’s Clasico win reminded me of Champions League

Carlo Ancelotti said Real Madrid deserved their 3-1 Clasico win over Barcelona on Sunday and the performance and atmosphere at the Bernabeu stadium felt like “a Champions League afternoon.”

Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde put Madrid ahead in the first half, before Ferran Torres pulled a goal back for Barca. But substitute Rodrygo added a late penalty to secure the three points in added time.

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“In the first half we were better, more clinical, more effective,” Ancelotti said. “They tend to press high and we had the confidence to play out from the back. Defensively we did well. The team was committed, we didn’t leave any spaces. That first half was the key to the game.”

Madrid’s win leaves them three points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of the LaLiga table with nine games played, as they look to defend the title won last season.

Ancelotti said the home side’s dominance in midfield thanks to Toni Kroos and goal-scorer Valverde was crucial.

“Kroos and Valverde were very, very good, in different ways,” he said. “Kroos helped us play out from the back and he was strong defensively. … Valverde is getting used to playing in this position [on the right]. He’s scoring goals, and he has spectacular energy.”

Madrid remain unbeaten in LaLiga — and the Champions League — so far this season, with games to come against Elche, Sevilla, RB Leipzig and Girona this month.

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Ancelotti praised the contribution of the Bernabeu crowd, saying Madrid’s Champions League comebacks against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City last season had forged a bond between the team — who stayed on the pitch at the full-time whistle to celebrate the victory — and the fans.

“They’ve always been close to us, but what happened last year got us even closer,” Ancelotti said. “It wasn’t night-time but this was like a Champions League afternoon with the atmosphere. The team delivered.”

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