Barcelona and Real Madrid locked horns for the third time this season as the Copa del Rey pitted them against each other in the first leg of the semi-finals.

Both teams had won once each so far this season, and this tie could serve as a huge psychological advantage given the context of La Liga’s title race.

Depleted due to injuries, Barça were without three of their starters in Pedri, Robert Lewandowski, and Ousmane Dembele. However, the Catalans showed immense resilience in this game, boxing out the likes of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr.

After a feisty opening 25 minutes, Barcelona found a way through courtesy of a mistake from Eduardo Camavinga. The Frenchman gave away possession to Ferran Torres, who found Franck Kessie in the box.

The Ivorian managed to stumble the ball into the goal somehow to give Barça the lead against the run of play.

Barcelona put up an absolute defensive masterclass today, not giving Madrid any decent chances. The kind of performance Xavi had been longing for a while. A 0-1 Clasico win at the Santiago Bernabeu with four key players injured? Barcelona will, and should take that any day of the week.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8

Did not have to stop many shots, but was absolute flawless with his reading of the game. Caught all crosses coming his way and intercepted all half-chances in the six-yard box. Not to forget his distribution, which was incredible as always.

Ronald Araujo: 8.5

Araujo was, once again, an absolute menace for Vinicius Jr on the flank. The Brazilian had no way past him, and had to often drift far too central to find space for himself.

That said, the Uruguayan’s passing was especially off-the-mark today.

Jules Kounde: 9

Kounde moved into central defence and put in a stellar shift against Madrid. Intercepted every attack, and was immovable in the box. Marked his opponents very well, and was the only defender properly playing out from the back.

Marcos Alonso: 7.5

Made a mistake here and there in possession, but cannot be faulted for his work defensively. Was constantly breathing down Valverde’s neck on the flank, and did well to shut down crosses.

Alejandro Balde: 7

A shifty first half was followed by an impressive second one for Balde who did well to play the ball out of pressure thanks to his ball-carrying ability.

Frenkie de Jong: 9

One of de Jong’s best games this season as he carried the ball through Madrid’s midfield with ease, starting attacks and easing pressure on his teammates. Did well defensively as well, and was not afraid to slide into challenges.

Sergio Busquets: 8

A very anti-Busquets game from the captain today, who was very sloppy in possession. However, his defensive work more than made up for it as he guarded the base of the midfield like it was 2011.

Franck Kessie: 8

Kessie is finally growing into the Barcelona shirt. He was solid in midfield, constantly halting counter-attacks and boxing out Valverde. Has to be credited with the first goal even though it went through Militao. Almost scored another one, only to be denied by Fati.

Raphinha: 6.5

Raphinha was brilliant defensively, slotting in as a fullback at times. Also did well to start a few counter-attacks, but said moves could have ended much better if not for some poor decision making.

Ferran Torres: 7

Clearly not adept at playing as a striker, Torres looked clueless for the most part. However, as soon as he was moved to the right-wing, he created arguably the best chance of the night.

Gavi: 7.5

Another ‘dawg’ performance from Gavi, who was fearless going up against some of the best players in Europe.


Ansu Fati: 5

Did much better as a striker, but has to be faulted for stopping Kessie’s clear goal inside the box.

Sergi Roberto: N/A

Did not do enough to warrant a rating.

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