Barcelona saw Malcom pull a goal back against Real Madrid as the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final ended in a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou on Wednesday
The game started in the worst possible manner for the hosts as Lucas Vazquez put Real Madrid ahead in the sixth minute after some fine link-up between Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema. Los Blancos almost doubled their tally soon after, but Barcelona were bailed out by Gerard Pique, who blocked Vinicius’ effort.
The Catalans though, started growing into the game with every passing minute, with Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Malcom getting them closer to an equaliser. But, Real Madrid continued taking the game to their hosts, although the first half ended without any further goals.
Barcelona came out of the break the stronger of the two sides and capitalised on their momentum by grabbing the elusive equaliser at the end of a frantic phase of play. Jordi Alba was first thwarted by Keylor Navas, when through on goal before Luis Suarez hit the upright.
The rebound fell to Malcom, who made no error in calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net. The sparring contest continued between the two sides thereafter, with Real Madrid getting the best chance to grab the lead for a second time.
But, the match ended all square, with Santiago Solari’s men taking home a crucial away goal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s charges following the 1-1 draw.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
Real Madrid did dominate the proceedings for large parts of the game, but ter Stegen had very little to do, with the visitors only having two shots on target. The first of those resulted in a goal, which the German had no chance of stopping. Distributed the ball well, however, which helped Barcelona turn the tide after the initial onslaught.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
Semedo started the game slowly, when he was struggling against the pace and relentless driving runs of Vinicius Junior. But, the Portuguese defender soon found his feet, dealing with his marker’s threat quite well while also embarking on his own runs that left the Real Madrid defence back-pedalling – Sergio Ramos was left on his backside in one instance.
Gerard Pique: 8/10
📊 | #BarcaMadrid | Pique stats against Madrid:
2 blocked shots
94.8 % pass accuracy
3 Long balls completed
7 Duels won
1 Fouls won
Absolute rock at the back. pic.twitter.com/8BXOYVSwf0
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) February 6, 2019
The first leg disaster in the previous round seems to be a thing of the distant past, as Pique continued his fine run of form. Crucial in keeping Barcelona in the game in the early exchanges, blocking an effort by Vinicius not long after the opener was scored. Organised the backline rather well and won a massive seven duels. A colossal performance.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
Lenglet was another player who seemed to be jittery in the early stages of the game, with Lucas Vazquez evading his marking well to net the opening goal of the game. But, the Frenchman settled in quickly after that, negating most of the threat quite well while also playing the ball that started the move for Malcom’s goal. Needs to iron out the phases when he tends to switch off.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
Usually Barcelona’s biggest threat in the final third, Alba was rather subdued on Wednesday, with Dani Carvajal containing him superbly. But, the one time he did get past his marker, Alba played a key role in his side’s equaliser.
At the back, the Spaniard had his role to play for Real Madrid’s goal, mistiming his jump that let Karim Benzema pick Lucas Vazquez. One of those days.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
An unusually sub-par performance by Rakitic, who could not affect the proceedings much. The Croat did come close to netting the equaliser for Barcelona before Malcom did, only to see his header hit the woodwork. Taken off for Arturo Vidal a little after the hour mark.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
Another one of Barcelona’s reliable regulars who were not quite at their best on the night, which explains why the game was quite even in the end. The game almost passed him by initially, with the pace of Real Madrid’s counters catching him off guard. Suddenly came into his own upon Lionel Messi’s introduction, exchanging some neat passes with the Argentine.
The best of the lot in midfield for Barcelona, Arthur orchestrated the moves brilliantly, and was the biggest reason why the hosts settled down after a sluggish start. Pulled the strings effortlessly, spraying long balls for the front trio. It’s a wonder how well he has settled in quickly at Camp Nou.
In what has been a largely forgettable season for him, positive moments have come few and far between for Malcom. But, on Wednesday, he made the most telling impact for the Copa del Rey holders, holding his nerve to calmly slot an emphatic shot into the back of the net past two Real Madrid defenders on the goal-line.
The Brazilian even showed his prowess on the dead ball when Rakitic headed onto the crossbar from his free-kick. Just what he needed.
— Sport360° (@Sport360) February 7, 2019
Luis Suarez: 7/10
Suarez may not have found the back of the net on the night, but his relentless pursuit towards one ended with Malcom’s equaliser. Ran himself into the ground and created space for the wide men with his deceptive movement. A promising display despite the fact that he did not score.
Philippe Coutinho: 5/10
It looks like the signs of a turnaround in form were only a false hope, with Coutinho back to his slumber. The Brazilian produced just one positive moment of note, threading in a beautiful pass in the first half. But, the game passed him by too, and he was rightly taken off for Lionel Messi, who was an instant upgrade.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
On for Rakitic, Vidal did not add much to the game in what ended up being a rare blip for the Chilean. Grafted along but nothing came off it.
Lionel Messi: 6/10
Upon being introduced with around 30 minutes left, Messi started off brightly. But, as the minutes passed it became clear why he didn’t start, as he still looked somewhat unfit. Ernesto Valverde will now hope his star man can be fully fit for the return leg later this month.
Carles Alena: N/A
On for the final 15 minutes or so, Alena was not involved much apart from a promising exchange with Messi.