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Copa del Rey semi-final: Five talking points from Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

The Catalans win the first leg

Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Spanish Copa del Rey Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Barcelona fight back

Barcelona headed to the Bernabeu on the back of two defeats and missing four key players in the shape of Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski and Andreas Christensen.

A comfortable Real Madrid win looked to be on the cards, but Xavi certainly got a response from his side as they showed some real fighting spirit to battle to a 1-0 win.

Barca had just 35.3% possession and needed an own goal to win but did not allow Real Madrid a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.

Real Madrid didn’t like it one bit. Carlo Ancelotti complained that Barca didn’t deserve the victory, while Thibaut Courtois wittered on about his team being “really unlucky” afterwards.

It certainly wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the type of football Barcelona are known for. However, it did the job and Barca now head to the Camp Nou for the return with the advantage.

Araujo still giving Vini nightmares

The star of the show was the world’s best defender, Ronald Araujo. Barca’s plan to nullify the threat of Vinicius Junior is no secret but once again the Brazilian and Madrid had no answer to Araujo.

The Uruguayan was simply immense throughout the 90 minutes. He kept Vini quiet, ensured the Brazilian had another frustrating night and helped his team to yet another clean sheet.

Araujo certainly seems to enjoy playing at the Bernabeu.

Xavi summed it up pretty well after the match with his comments. “Vinicius normally creates six or seven chances in a game and tonight he didn’t manage any,” he said.

Araujo is certainly having himself a monster of a season. More of the same please.

Busquets becomes King of the Clasico

Sergio Busquets made history against Real Madrid, overtaking Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos when it comes to appearances in the Clasico.

The Barcelona captain made his 46th outing in the famous fixture on Thursday night and will surely extend that record even further with two more meetings against Real Madrid to come in the next few weeks.

Barcelona’s victory also saw Busquets end up on the winning side in a Clasico for the 22nd time, more than any other player.

Busquets overtook Paco Gento’s mark on Thursday night, and let’s hope he extends that record too over the next few weeks.

No Christensen, no problem for Barcelona

Barcelona fans could be forgiven for feeling nervous after reading the teamsheet and seeing Marcos Alonso come in for Christensen in the backline. Xavi’s faith in the former Chelsea man has been obvious this season but still a little curious.

However, Alonso put in a superb shift alongside Jules Kounde and ensured Christensen was simply not missed. He showed a great understanding with the France international and didn’t put a foot wrong

Araujo spoke to Barca TV about the win and praised his team’s defensive display.

“We were great defensively. It’s what the game required. We love to have the ball normally but today it didn’t happen,” he ssaid.

“What was important was that we defended well. I always said that’s something we needed to improve upon from last year and you could see the team worked hard in defense. We were able to hold onto the 1-0 scoreline and it goes down as a very important win.”

Christensen and Araujo still remain Xavi’s best center-back pairing, but the versatility of Alonso and Kounde is proving a big asset this season as Barcelona’s defense keeps on doing the business.

Double dreams still alive

Barcelona’s win keeps the team’s double dreams alive and also gets the team back on track after painful defeats to Manchester United and Almeria.

The tie is far from over but, fingers crossed, Barcelona will be stronger in the second leg with their injured players set to return.

Thursday’s win means Barca can also head into Sunday’s La Liga match against Valencia on a high with the Almeria defeat now looking a distant memory.

Xavi still has issues for the visit from Los Che, due to injuries and suspensions, but the belief gained from the win at the Bernabeu is a massive boost.

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