Barcelona said goodbye to this season’s Copa del Rey in embarrassing fashion thanks to a painful 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the second leg of their semi-final tie. Barça collapsed in the second half and deservedly lost the final El Clásico of the season, which denies them a shot at a League and Cup double.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Alejandro Balde: The young full-back was one of two Barça players on the night who can go home knowing he played as hard and as well as he could and actually looked like he cared in the second half. Balde was Barça’s best attacking player all game long and was his usual physical, tough self when defending. The good news from an otherwise horrible night is that Barça have their left-back of the present and future, someone who brings quality on both ends, plays with passion and doesn’t shy away from the biggest moments.
Ronald Araujo: The Uruguayan once again more than held his own against Vinicius Junior, and was entirely responsible for Barça’s best chance of the second half. And like Balde, Araujo looked like he cared and was ready to do whatever was necessary to bring his team back and try to make a miracle happen in the end. Araujo leads by example and continues to develop into a great center-back, and the way he fought in this one made me even more proud to have him on the team.
Marcos Alonso: A truly terrible night for Alonso, who from the very beginning looked like a terrible matchup against Real Madrid’s Rodrygo, who used his pace and skill to make Marcos look pretty bad all night long. He was out of position the entire game, his passing was inexplicable, and the crucial first goal in the match doesn’t happen if not for a bad decision to press way too high and then another bad decision not to commit a tactical foul that might have earned him a yellow card but surely would have stopped Madrid’s most dangerous attack of the first half just seconds away from the halftime whistle. It’s easy to say Eric García would have been the better choice in retrospect, but Alonso played very well in the first leg of the semi-final at the Santiago Bernabéu and his inclusion in the lineup made sense. He just played very, very, very, very badly.
Raphinha: The Brazilian reverted back to the awful form he was in during the first six months of his Barça career and had a truly terrible performance. Going up against an out of position Eduardo Camavinga on the wing should have been an easy win for Raphinha, but he was dominated by the Frenchman and got every decision wrong. His passing and crossing was terrible and he was not only not a threat but consistently killed promising attacks, and it was easy to see why Ousmane Dembélé is so badly needed on this team.