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Barcelona 0-4 Real Madrid: Player Ratings

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

It’s Wednesday night in Barcelona. A calm and clear 13ºC night greets all players on the pitch. Real Madrid step onto Camp Nou to take on their antithetical element and reverse the 1-0 lead that Barça so slenderly managed in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, while the players of La Ciudad Condal had the job of maintaining tight discipline and enterprising pressure to go out and win this game. 

Barça dominated possession with proactivity in the first third of the match, with a few key chances coming by way of Raphina alongside a goal-line clearance from Ronald Araujo. They continuously applied pressure on Real Madrid, winning the ball back with discipline at any loss of possession, keeping Los Blancos at bay. 

At the end of the first half, an excellent connection and chance from Gavi to Alejandro Balde to Lewandowski sourly led to a ruthless counter-attack from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr for the first goal of the game.

Things turned for worse during the second half, with a vicious attack and strike from Benzema taking Real Madrid to 2-0. The sun seemed ever setting on the horizon, as Franck Kessie’s careless tackle led to a third goal for Los Merengues; a typical Benzema penalty. 

The midfield and backline’s total carelessness showed how big Barcelona’s reliance on the presence of Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Andreas Christensen really is; with the three of them gone, it felt as though there were absorbent holes in their positioning, leading to a fourth and destructive goal for Benzema’s hattrick. 

With that, dreams of a Copa del Rey triumph ended abruptly for Xavi & co. Here are the player ratings for Barcelona’s failed troopers on the pitch tonight: 

Marc-André ter Stegen: 4

With total coolness in the first phase, the forecasted potential Zamora winner simply extended his hand a few times in keeping Benzema’s chances curtailed. However, an angled shot from Vinicius, followed by an elite lower left-corner strike from Benzema made the German helpless in defending the net twice. He was also helpless in conceding a penalty in the 59th minute, before being beaten again late on. 

Ronald Araújo: 5

From the beginning of the game, he made an essential goal-line clearance and stopped a key chance with Vinicius on the break, even having a Maradona-esque moment in the second half to almost score a recovering goal. He also showed his evolving and pinpoint accurate passes throughout the game, keeping the backline’s passes flowing in tight positions.

Unfortunately, and with Balde nowhere to be seen, he chose the wrong position in closing Benzema down on the right side and affording Vinicius enough space to score the first goal of the game. Covering the right-back position, he was unavailable to aid the backline for the remaining goals either.

Jules Koundé: 4

With what was mostly a latent first half, Koundé came ever so close to stripping Madrid of their first goal, as he presented himself on the goal-line in his regular vein, but his footing wasn’t strong enough to stop Vinicius’ shot from entering the net. While he had a few key services in defence in the opening first half, Vinicius and Benzema’s movement put him on his bottom and useless in defending Madrid’s second goal.

Marcos Alonso: 2

Alonso rarely aided the backline, leaving many gaps between himself and Kounde to be exploited on the break by the deadly pair of Real Madrid attackers. He was fast substituted before the final phase of the game, having provided nothing at all.

Alejandro Balde: 2

Poor defensively. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

Balde kept the left wing busy in the first phase of the game with pacy runs and crosses into the box, styling up with an elite dribble in the 32nd minute of the game as he whizzed past three players. His battle with Militão reflected the classic Araujo-Vinicius duel as a testament to Balde’s threat on the left wing.

But he was not able to put the dampener on his offensive tendencies, leading him too far up the pitch and the left side vulnerable to Madrid’s first counter-attacking goal at the end of the first half. He was also nowhere to be seen in defending the second goal, and was, as is popularly said in modern rhetoric, “caught lacking” in serious fashion for the fourth goal, almost individually handing the hattrick ball to Benzema at that moment.

Franck Kessié: 3

Kessie kept the midfield flowing throughout the first third, with two long balls and tight defensive work, making us barely miss Pedri at first. His key job was to mark Modric and Kroos to close them down in tight spaces.

But his carelessness in covering Vinicius led to Madrid’s penalty and devastating third goal, and he was unable to provide any defensive reprieve against the vanguard pair of midfielders on the other end. 

Sergio Busquets: 4

Busquets did whatever little he could, attempting to keep the midfield flowing with long passes and accurate short ones, but he too was pace-less and invisible in tracking back to defend against Madrid’s three-pronged blow.

Sergi Roberto: 4 

Sergi Roberto kept things standard as most times during the first half of the game, but he failed to provide adequate defensive cover in tracking back, leaving his backline rather defenceless for the first two goals. 

Raphinha: 5 

After a good early chance via a header, Raphina was stifled by Eduardo Camavinga and the likes for the early phases of the game, but he kept his toes about him as the front-running receiver for chances throughout. He continued with intelligent passes and a close shot during the 55th minute, but could not help the larger problems of the team on the night.

Robert Lewandowski: 3.5 

Toothless. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Polish hitman seemed to be missing his rifle in the face of the target for the entire first half; his efforts curbed by the white shield of Eder Militão and David Alab. His connection with the rest of the team was lacking apart from one cross from Balde, with his chance at the end of the first half leading to Madrid’s goal at the other end of the pitch.

With one or two good chances at most, he seemed so toothless one would think things were travelling in reverse throughout this match.

Gavi: 5 

In his usual personal flair and character, Gavi started the game staying responsible with early final passes; he was pressed into a half row with Vinicius Jr. which led to yellow cards for both men.

“Almost Xavi-like” was a sound reflection from the commentator on his quality throughout the first half. But as Real Madrid grew, Gavi faded into the background, only ever offering a link to Balde as a productive outlet during the game.

SUBSTITUTES

Ansu Fati: 4

Could not provide anything after he came on. 

Eric Garcia: 4

Came on as a replacement for Alonso’s awful performance, but was not able to provide anything revolutionary. 

Ferran Torres: 4

He seemed just as toothless as all our other attackers during the whole game, with only Raphinha providing any sort of outlet throughout the match. 

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