Barcelona reached the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, handing a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Barcelona were uncharacteristically subdued in the first half, with the Real Madrid defence containing them quite easily. In fact, the visitors failed to take a single shot at goal before the break, while their hosts wasted a number of opportunities to find the back of the net.
The first half though, ended goalless, with Real Madrid holding the slimmest of advantages in the tie, having grabbed a precious away goal in the first leg. But, Barcelona ended up blowing that advantage away soon after the break.
Five minutes into the second half, the Copa del Rey holders grabbed the lead with their first opening of the game as Luis Suarez produced a fine first-time finish from Ousmane Dembele’s cut-back. Real though, continued to dominate the proceedings, but were still unable to produce the finishing touches to find their way back into the game.
The hosts’ hopes all but ended in the 69th minute as Raphael Varane inadvertently turned the ball into his own net from Dembele’s low cross in trying to deny Suarez. Four minutes later, the emphatic result was sealed as Suarez scored a cheeky Panenka penalty after he was fouled by Casemiro inside the Real Madrid box.
Barcelona thus, went on to clinch the tie 4-1 on aggregate, reaching the final for the sixth successive year. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men following their huge victory over their arch-rivals on Wednesday.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 9/10
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 27, 2019
Real Madrid were all over Barcelona in the first half, and it was only a couple of top saves from ter Stegen that the score remained level going into the break – one, in particular, from Benzema was superb.
In the second half, the German was only called into action once his side were already up, although his stop to deny Sergio Reguilon was breathtaking. If not for him, Real Madrid might have been celebrating a safe passage through to the Copa del Rey final instead.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
A trial by fire for Semedo, who struggled to cope with the pace and trickery of Vinicius Junior for much of the game. But, a block on the Brazilian was crucial, with the winger’s shot being goal bound. Instrumental in the build-up to his side’s second goal, releasing Ousmane Dembele free on the right flank.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
Like Semedo, Pique often looked out of his depths while dealing with Vinicius and was also troubled by Benzema in the first half. But, the veteran defender came into his own in the second half, organising the backline well to reduce the number of chances created by Real Madrid considerably.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
Starting in place of Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet looked to impress Valverde, especially as he looks primed to lose his regular place to his compatriot. The Frenchman did impress for the most part, with a block on Vinicius being crucial, but was caught out of position at times too.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
Did not need to do much defensively, with Lucas Vazquez not threatening much. But, the presence of the Spaniard meant that the Barcelona full-back could not advance forward nearly as much as he does usually. Did have an impact on the result though, as he produced the pass for Dembele in the build-up to Suarez’s first goal.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
Started in midfield, perhaps with a view to doubling up on the dangerous Vinicius Junior. The Spaniard did help Semedo out a lot and if not for him, the Brazilian would have run his teammate ragged. Looked dangerous with his late runs into the box, but did not get a chance to score.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
A game of two halves for the veteran midfielder. While Busquets struggled to contain the Real Madrid creative duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the first half, there was very little way past him post the interval. Did fail to assert his authority on the ball, however, with Real Madrid still dominating the proceedings despite falling behind.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
Rakitic, like several of his teammates, did not enjoy the best of times in the first half, failing to make an impact on the ball, although he did defend diligently. Ought to have been rewarded with a penalty in the second half, but did well to set chances up for his team in the second half.
Lionel Messi: 6/10
Wednesday’s game was a rare occasion wherein Messi was not involved in his side’s win. In fact, the Barcelona captain was kept quiet for much of the evening, be it by Casemiro or Sergio Reguilon. But, it does bode well for the Blaugrana that they managed to secure a win without needing him.
Luis Suarez: 9/10
For much of the first half, Suarez was nowhere to be seen, with Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos negating him perfectly. But, he burst into life post the break, with his trademark runs leaving the Real Madrid defenders backpedaling.
The Uruguayan timed his shot perfectly for the first goal and it was his presence behind Varane that forced the Frenchman to take action and turn the ball into his own net. Finally, Suarez won and converted the penalty that sealed the win – a cheeky Panenka that ended up deflating the hosts completely.
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
Dembele struggled to create much in the first half, as he seemed to be lacking sharpness. But like Suarez, he came into his own in the second period, creating two of the three goals with dangerous low crosses. Unsettled the Real Madrid defence pretty much on his own.
Philippe Coutinho: N/A
Coutinho replaced Dembele with 15 minutes left in the game, and did not need to do much with the win already secured.
Arturo Vidal: N/A
On for Suarez, Vidal was simply a pair of fresh legs and helped see the game out.
A cameo appearance to mark his return from injury.