Real Madrid's midfield is not used to being outrun. But on Sunday night, the young legs of Barcelona's Gavi and Frenkie de Jong made the aging limbs of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos run out of steam. The Barca duo controlled things in and out of possession for the Blaugrana, pacing the side to a 2-1 comeback win that puts them on the brink of winning the 2022-23 La Liga title.
Madrid snagged the opener, much against the run of play. Vinicius Junior danced down the left side and floated a speculative cross off the head of Ronald Araujo and into the Barca net.
The Blaugrana spent the remainder of the first half in control of proceedings. De Jong was at the centre of it all, making driving runs forward and firing arrowed passes into the feet of Robert Lewandowski. The leveller eventually came moments before the interval, with Sergi Roberto capitalising on a series of deflections to lash the ball home from 10 yards out.
Carlo Ancelotti got a bit more fight out of some tiring legs in central midfield after the break, but Madrid seldom threatened. Instead, they were subject to a series of trips and bumps by an ever-active, often-irritating Gavi.
And when Madrid went all out for a winner in stoppage time, Barcelona took advantage. Alejandro Balde darted down the left before cutting the ball back across goal to a waiting Kessie, who couldn't miss.
By the end of it all, even the usually stoic Xavi was celebrating. He knows Barcelona have La Liga wrapped up.
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