The first leg of the titanic clash in the Copa Del Ray semi-final saw the two Spanish giants and La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid battling it out in the cup version of El Clasico, which started a bit slow with home team Real Madrid looking the most dangerous of the two sides.
Madrid starlet Vinicius who was booked for a ‘wrestling tangle’ with Frenkie De Jong early in the first half, was up to his usual dangerous and penetrative runs on the left wing. But all of that changed when Spain forward Ferran Torres played a well waited pass through to ex-AC Milan star Franc Kessie who continued his determined run that caught Real back line slipping, which bamboozled Militao and Nacho, who combined to score an own goal to give La Liga Leaders Barcelona the lead in the 26th minute.
Kessie’s magnificent run that created the own goal, which turned out to be the winner, highlighted the first half as Barcelona nullified all of Madrid attacking threats, however, Benzema had the ball in the back of the net early on in the proceedings with a brilliant finish, but it was quickly ruled out, for a clear off-side on the French striker.
For Real Madrid, the second half was equally rewarding, as they failed to create any clear-cut chances, as Barcelona neutralized all of Madrid’s rather lacklustre attacking plays. Ancelotti tried to change the game’s dynamics by bringing on Tchouameni, Rodrygo and youngster Rodriguez but to no avail.
Kessie once again was instrumental in coming up with Barcelona’s best chance of the second half, which saw his well-place shot destined for the bottom corner blocked by his teammate Ansu Fati after Courtois was left stranded on his line.
Over a month from now, Real Madrid will have another chance to turn things around in Camp Nou. Meanwhile, the Catalans, on the other hand, continued their fantastic run in Spain by beating a strong Madrid team despite the absence of Lewandowski, Pedri, and Dembele.