Xavi’s Barcelona managed to pull out a rabbit from the hat as they walked out from the Santiago Bernabeu with a goal advantage into the second leg of Copa Del Rey. A mix-up in the 25th minute of the game was enough to decide the fate of the game.
Barcelona launched a lethal counterattack as a misplaced pass in the midfield allowed the young Spanish attacker Ferran Torres to slip the ball in Franck Kessie’s path whose shot was initially saved but a deflection from Militao changed the course of the ball as it rolled in the back of the net.
Real Madrid initially thought that they had taken the lead in the 12th minute of the game. Madrid stole the possession in Barcelona’s half and their forwards sprinted inside the visitors’ box. Vinicius Junior produced a delightful cross to find Benzema who found the bottom corner of the net with ease. However, all their efforts came to nothing as Benzema was marginally wandering in the offside area.
The hosts had a fair share of opportunities to level the score in the first half. However, each moment was dealt with agitation rather than composure. Dani Carvajal’s 41st-minute miss summed up Los Blancos entire first-half story. Toni Kroos executed a cross over the head of the entire Barcelona defensive line-up to find the veteran Spanish right-back. The 31-year-old defender snapped when the opportunity came to him and ended up blasting the ball into the stands from a distance of 10 yards.
The second half showcased a similar story. Real Madrid continued to dominate the possession while the visitors waited for an opening to strike the final nail in the coffin. Their patience was finally rewarded in the 72nd minute as Ferran Torres sprinted to the byline and made a cutback pass to find Kessie. With acres of space in the box, Kessie chose his spot, and fired a shot, only to be denied by his own player Ansu Fati rather than Thibaut Courtois.
As the game approached the final minutes Rodrygo tried to replicate Vinicus’s goal in the UCL against Liverpool. However, his effort went wide past the goal. The hosts had a final chance to salvage something out of the game as they got a corner in the final seconds of the injury time. In order to redeem himself Militao went for the spectacular overhead kick from 12 yards out, only to see his effort go wide.
Barcelona’s manager Xavi had a mixed reaction to this game’s result. In the post-match conference, he said that: “I am satisfied with the result, but not with our match. We can’t let our rival take the ball away from us. We have an advantage for the second leg, but we still have to compete very well. I think Real Madrid are very strong, and I still see them as the favourites.”
On the other hand, Real Madrid’s manager Carlo Ancelotti gave his verdict on the game. In the post-match press conference, he said, “We played well, we took Barca to a place they didn’t want to go, but we weren’t decisive in the final third. The defeat hurts. But if we do the same again in the second game, we have the chance to go through.”
Barcelona will host Real Madrid at Camp Nou in the second leg of Copa Del Rey on 6th April. (ANI)