Real Madrid grabbed a crucial away goal through Lucas Vazquez, holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.
Real Madrid started the game strongly, taking no time to grab the lead. Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. linked up well in the final third before the latter precisely crossed the ball for the French striker from the left flank. Benzema then produced a first-time squared pass that Lucas Vazquez latched onto to hand the visitors the lead.
Vinicius almost doubled Los Blancos‘ advantage moments later, only to see Gerard Pique block his effort. Thereafter, Barcelona created the bulk of the chances, while Real Madrid had Keylor Navas to thank for preserving their lead heading into half-time, as the no. 1 denied Luis Suarez at full stretch.
The Copa del Rey holders came out the stronger of the two sides in the second half, before going on to pull back to level terms through Malcom after Navas had thwarted Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez had struck the woodwork.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) February 6, 2019
Real Madrid though, had the best chance to grab the lead once again, with Gareth Bale spurning the opportunity. But, the visitors still take back home a crucial away goal, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Santiago Solari’s men following a promising performance.
Keylor Navas: 8/10
Navas rarely gets any game time these days, but he still keeps producing strong performances whenever given an opportunity. Wednesday was another such occasion, wherein the no. 1 barely put a foot wrong and denied Barcelona whenever given an opportunity.
The most notable of his saves was his outstretched stop to deny Luis Suarez in the first half. Navas also thwarted Jordi Alba in the move that eventually led to the Barcelona goal, and he could not have done anything to stop Malcom from scoring, seeing as he was stranded due to his sweeping save off Alba.
Dani Carvajal: 7/10
Back into the side after missing the weekend’s game due to suspension, Carvajal made his third outing in the Copa del Rey, with Wednesday’s performance being his best in the competition thus far. A major reason why Alba did not produce a strong performance of his own. But, he was caught off his line in the move that ultimately resulted in Barcelona’s equaliser.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Another player who was coming off an absence through suspension – Varane was largely solid as well. The 2018 World Cup winner kept a check on Luis Suarez, who was not allowed much of a sniff at goal.
But, the Frenchman, like Carvajal, was one of those guilty when Real Madrid conceded the equaliser, having been caught out of position. More positives than negative, however.
Sergio Ramos: 8/10
Making his 40th outing in an El Clasico, a joint-record for the most appearances in the game in the 21st century, alongside Xavi, the Real Madrid captain produced perhaps his best performance of the season. A far cry from the hobbles of the game in La Liga a few months back, Ramos was in his elements.
Last night, Sergio Ramos equalled Xavi as the player with the most appearances in #ElClasico in all competitions in the 21st century (40)
— Goal (@goal) February 7, 2019
That he was also covering for an underwhelming Marcelo only added to the challenge that the Spaniard faced on the night. Could have done very little to stop Malcom from scoring despite being on the line, after the ball was deflected off Carvajal. Ended the match strongly, however, making a crucial challenge on Lionel Messi.
The left-back rotation continued on Wednesday, with Marcelo starting another cup game. But, this was a dreadful showing that may have helped Sergio Reguilon’s prospects for the rest of the season. Always looked like a liability when off the ball, the Brazilian wasn’t much better on it either.
The biggest guilty party for Barcelona’s equaliser, with Marcelo strolling back instead of aggressively marking Malcom, who ended up netting the goal. Just has not been himself since recovering from his injury, and things are only going from bad to worse for him.
Luka Modric: 7/10
Modric was a major reason why Real Madrid dominated the game for large parts, threading precise passes into the final third. Let down by Vinicius at times, with the Brazilian not quite at his best on the night. Faded a little towards the end of the game, but it was a strong showing regardless.
Marcos Llorente: 6/10
The holding midfield merry go round continued on Wednesday, with Marcos Llorente starting in place of Casemiro. The Spaniard was typically astute in his defensive duties, shutting off most of the threat through the central areas.
But, in the middle of yet another solid performance, he picked up an injury, which will be quite frustrating for him. Solari would hope it is nothing serious.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Like Modric, Kroos orchestrated the play well, whenever he had possession of the ball, while also floating in some dangerous crosses from set-piece situations. But, the German seemed to switch off at times, which took the pressure off Barcelona. Came close to scoring a match winner, only to see Gerard Pique block his shot.
Lucas Vazquez: 7/10
Lucas Vazquez continued his scoring ways in the Copa del Rey, making a superb ghosting run past Clement Lenglet to net his side’s goal. But, the Spaniard faded after the early stages, rarely coming close to scoring another goal.
Did work hard off the ball, typically so, but it was his efforts on the other end that left much to be desired. Still, the crucial away goal scored, which ought to help in the second leg.
Karim Benzema: 7/10
Benzema continued his strong run of form on Wednesday. But, while his scoring streak finally came to an end, he did help create the goal for Real Madrid, timing his run to perfection before laying on the squared pass for Lucas Vazquez to score from.
Looked dangerous whenever he was on the ball, although he should have taken a shot himself instead of passing the ball on to Gareth Bale late into the game as the visitors came close to scoring the winner.
Vinicius Junior: 6/10
Vinicius seemed to be in his elements early on, including the move for the opener, as he neatly exchanged the ball with Benzema before laying on the cross for the Frenchman, who assisted Lucas. But, while the Brazilian looked dangerous thereafter, his end product was not quite there on the night. Perhaps weary after a relentless run of games.
On for the injured Llorente, Casemiro was uncharacteristically poor, losing the ball a couple of times, which helped Barcelona heap the pressure at a time they were in the ascendancy. Grew into the game in the latter stages, which helped ease the nerves in the Real Madrid camp.
Gareth Bale: 5/10
This was an important cameo for Bale, considering his fight to return as a regular. But, it ended up being another missed opportunity, characterized best by his poor touch when presented with the chance to score the winner for Real Madrid.
Marco Asensio: N/A
Asensio did not have enough time to affect the game. Looked in good touch, however, and could be in for a start in the derby against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.