Barcelona’s dreams of a league-cup double were destroyed on Wednesday night thanks to an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Real Madrid in El Clásico in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie at the Spotify Camp Nou. After a solid start Barça completely fell apart in a truly horrific second half, and a tragic result means the end of the road for the Blaugrana in this year’s Spanish Cup.
Barça made a very good start to the game, pressing high up the pitch and creating dangerous chances with quick, incisive attacks. They should have had a penalty just three minutes in when David Alaba clearly blocked a cross from Gavi with his arm, but both the referee and VAR decided to ignore the handball and Madrid managed to avoid early trouble.
After 15 excellent minutes from the home team, the rest of the half was a battle between two sides who were very physical but lacked quality with the ball, and there were plenty of fouls and stoppages for yellow cards and conversations with the referee that slowed the pace of the game down considerably.
It seemed as though we were headed for a goalless first half, but a lightning-quick counter-attack from Madrid finally unlocked the door as Vinicius Junior made a one-two with Karim Benzema and saw his shot on goal blocked by Jules Kounde at the line, but the ball had enough momentum to go over the line and give the visitors the lead.
At halftime, a tense and intense Clásico had Los Blancos in front but Barça were more than alive on the night and in the tie, and with extra-time very much a possibility the second half promised to be full of drama.
Barça made a terrible start to the final period, with very sloppy passing in midfield and lack of discipline and physicality at the back which allowed Madrid to look more dangerous in attack.
It took only five minutes for Los Blancos to find a second goal, and it came thanks to Luka Modric running untouched with the ball for 30-plus yards and find Benzema at the edge of the box, and the French striker curled a shot into the bottom corner to put Madrid ahead in the tie.
Barça had 40 minutes to find at least one goal to stay alive, and they had a couple of half-chances but never truly troubled Thibaut Courtois in the Madrid goal. And with a half-hour to go, they suffered the knockout blow when Franck Kessie fouled Vinicius inside the box and Benzema scored the penalty to triple Madrid’s lead and essentially end the tie.
Barça needed two goals to force extra-time, but the Blaugrana looked defeated and completely out of ideas in attack, and going into the final 15 minutes there was very little hope of a late comeback. Instead there was more embarrassment on the way as Madrid went on another counter attack against a wide open Barça defense, and Vinicius found Benzema for the Frenchman’s hat-trick and Madrid’s fourth on the night.
The end of the game was very sad as both teams forgot to play and decided to push and kick each other, which led to lots of yellow cards and ugly scenes. The final whistle came to end a horrible night for Barça, and Madrid are moving on to face Osasuna in the Final.
Barça clearly missed four of their best players in this one, but they should never have lost this badly even with all the absences. Madrid showed their experience in elimination matches, and Barça have to move on quickly to finish the job and win La Liga.
This will hurt a lot, but it’s one bad night. It doesn’t need to turn into several other bad nights. Onward. Forward.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Kounde, Alonso (Eric 66’), Balde; Kessie (Fati 59’), Busquets, Roberto; Raphinha (Ferran 66’), Lewandowski, Gavi
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Alaba, Camavinga; Valverde, Kroos; Rodrygo (Asensio 74’), Modric (Tchouaméni 87’), Vinicius (Ceballos 87’); Benzema (Nacho 89’)
Goals: Vinicius (45+1’), Benzema (50’, pen 58’, 81’)