The much-anticipated first leg of the Copa del Rey semi final between Barcelona and Real Madrid took place on Wednesday night at Camp Nou, and we saw one of the worst El Clásico games in recent history. A very boring 90 minutes of football filled with fouls and bad passes ended with a 1-1 draw that benefits the visitors, and everything looks open ahead of the second leg in three weeks.
The game started terribly for Barça. The team lost the ball to easily, and Real Madrid had no problem finding spaces in the final third, and in the sixth minute the visitors got a goal: Vinicius Junior played a cross into the box, Karim Benzema brought the ball down and found Lucas Vázquez for the opener. It was too easy, and Barça’s defense needed to improve for them to come back.
The rest of the half featured Barça trying as hard as they could to create chances but stumbling on lack of creativity, while Vinicius Junior and Benzema wreaked havoc on the counter. Madrid had multiple chances to increase the lead, but the final product was lacking. Barça’s best chance came on a cross from Malcom and a header by Ivan Rakitic against the post, but that was it.
At halftime, Barça were playing really bad football, and they were lucky to not be losing by more.
Barça had a better start to the second half, pressing higher up the pitch and being more direct with their passing. Malcom and Jordi Alba were causing real problems on the flanks, and the two were key parts in the equalizer: Alba made a run in behind that forced Keylor Navas to come out of his goal, and when Luis Suárez tried a shot that was cleared by Sergio Ramos off the line, Malcom was quicker to the ball and scored a beautiful goal.
Lionel Messi came on after the goal to help Barça find the winner, but for the first time this season the captain struggled to make any kind of impact. Whether or not he was affected by the injury is unclear, but his decision-making was off and he took an ugly free-kick against the wall in his first 20 minutes on the pitch.
As we reached the final five minutes, the game seemed to be headed for a draw, with neither team able to create real chances. We saw a lot of fouls and yellow cards at the end, and the final whistle came. Other than the goals, this was a pretty bad game. Regardless of who goes through in the second leg, we need to get better football. These teams are too good.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic (Vidal), Busquets, Arthur; Malcom (Aleñá), Suárez, Coutinho (Messi)
Goal: Malcom (57’)
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Llorente (Casemiro), Kroos; Vázquez (Asensio), Benzema, Vinicius (Bale)
Goal: Vázquez (6’)