Barcelona will take a slender advantage to Camp Nou after they beat Real Madrid 1-0 in their Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.
An Eder Militao own goal was all that separated the two Spanish giants, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men having a lot of the ball but unable to craft much in the way of chances.
Militao’s own goal was only the fourth this century in a Clasico, three of which have favoured Barca after Ivan Helguera’s in May 2002 and Raphael Varane’s in February 2019.
Madrid may consider themselves fortunate not to lose by more, however, with Ansu Fati inadvertently denying team-mate Franck Kessie a certain goal in a second half largely dominated by the hosts.
Karim Benzema had the ball in the net early on when he chested down a cross from Vinicius Junior and volleyed home, only to be flagged offside.
Despite Madrid dominating early on, it was Barcelona who took the lead in the 26th minute.
Ferran Torres played in Kessie, whose shot went in off Militao after Thibaut Courtois had initially saved from the Barca midfielder.
Vinicius saw an effort blocked by Ronald Araujo early in the second half, while the visitors should have doubled their lead 18 minutes from time.
Kessie met Torres’ cut-back but saw his goal-bound shot deflected wide by substitute Fati with Courtois stranded.
Nevertheless, Xavi’s men held on despite Madrid’s desperate late onslaught.
Real Madrid player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Thibaut Courtois – 6/10 – Did well to save the first attempt from Kessie. Not that invovled overall.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 5/10 – Occupied a really high position on the right, not that he did much.
CB: Eder Militao – 6/10 – Didn’t have time to readjust his legs as the ball came back at him when Courtois saved Kessie’s initial shot. Defended well in general.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 6/10 – Barcelona didn’t put together many attacks so most of the game was played in front of him.
LB: Nacho – 5/10 – Took a swing at trying to clear the first half goal and couldn’t connect. Sacrificed for tacital reasons midway through the second half.
CM: Eduardo Camavinga – 6/10 – Culpable for Barcelona’s first half goal with sloppy play. Disappointing because he had plenty of energy and otherwise did well.
CM: Luka Modric – 5/10 – Kicked out in the first half and looked frustrated. Had an early chance to score but missed the target from a decent position.
CM: Toni Kroos – 5/10 – Passed the ball a lot without achieving or creating that much.
RW: Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Always looking to probe and create chances. Didn’t quite happen.
ST: Karim Benzema – 6/10 – Had the ball in the net with a sublime volley, only to see a flag up. Didn’t have the service he would have wanted after that.
LW: Vinicius Junior – 6/10 – Showed promise but never got the better of Araujo.
SUB: Rodrygo (67′ for Nacho) – 5/10
SUB: Aurelien Tchouameni (74′ for Kroos) – 5/10
SUB: Alvaro Rodriguez (84′ for Modric) – N/A
Carlo Ancelotti – 5/10 – His side didn’t seem to have the right creativity but there were no decisive solutions from the boss.
Barcelona player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 8/10 – Really calming and always in control of every situation.
RB: Ronald Araujo – 9/10 – Pushed to the right, seemingly in an attempt to combat the pace and agility of Vinicius. Won that battle every time.
CB: Jules Kounde – 9/10 – Defensive performance of the highest order.
CB: Marcos Alonso – 7/10 – Repelled everything that came his way.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 7/10 – Limited the danger that came from his side.
CM: Franck Kessie – 7/10 – Made the breakthrough goal possible with a driving run from deep.
CM: Sergo Busquets (c) – 7/10 – Held things together in midfield and led by example.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 7/10 – Needed to give a disciplined display and did.
RW: Raphinha – 6/10 – Offered a danger on the break, but was carrying a yellow card and seemed a little leggy after the break.
ST: Ferran Torres – 7/10 – Didn’t see loads of the ball but made good use of it when he did. Created the first half goal and almost assisted a second later on.
LW: Gavi – 7/10 – Involved in some pushing and shoving in the second half. Worked hard and put himself about to try and disrupt Real, which was important.
SUB: Ansu Fati (69′ for Raphinha) – 5/10
SUB: Sergi Roberto (86′ for Kessie) – N/A
Xavi – 8/10 – It wasn’t pretty but his player knews their jobs and excecuted them perfectly.