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El Clásico 3.0: Barcelona Beat Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu in the First Leg of the Copa del Rey Semifinal

El Clásico 3.0: Barcelona Beat Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu in the First Leg of the Copa del Rey Semifinal

The two greatest teams in Spanish club football history, Real Madrid and Barcelona are meeting each other five times this seasons, with the third meeting took place at the former’s home, the famous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. The two Spanish La Liga and European club football powerhouses were all tied in this season’s head-to-head record coming into this first leg of the Copa del Rey Semifinal, before Barca went ahead with a 1-0 victory at enemy territory. An early own goal by the home side’s Éder Militão meant the Catalan giants will be taking a narrow margin back to Camp Nou, where the second leg of this fixture will be held.

 

Militão’s OG Separated the Two

The first two meetings of the season between the two giants saw Real Madrid winning at home in the Spanish La Liga with a 3-1 score line, before Barcelona won it all at the Supercopa de España through the same score. Both sides did not win their last game in La Liga, prompting Real manager Carlo Ancelotti to alter his squad that drew against El Derbi Madrileño rival Atlético with two changes, whereas Xavi opted for five changes for his Barcelona team that surprisingly lost to UD Almería last time around.

The home side was motivated by their loud and passionate home fans to find the opening goal. Nevertheless, Real’s efforts did not bore fruits as Luka Modrić’s close-range strike was side-netted and Karim Benzema, who put the ball in the back of the net in the 12th minute, was eventually ruled offside. Los Blancos’ missed opportunities were soon punished by their arch-rival in the 26th minute, when a devastating Barca attack forced the 25-year-old Militão to score an own goal. Ferran Torres was seen tearing Real’s defence, before he found Ivorian Franck Kessié in the penalty box. The midfielder effort was saved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but the unfortunate Militão was unable to get out of the way and could only watch his deflection ended in Real’s goal.

The fury team in white pushed to find the equaliser in the remaining minutes of the game but struggled to hit the target all night as a result. Ancelotti’s side managed a 65% possession and had 13 shots over 90 minutes plus added time, but none of these strikes were able to find the goal, leaving Los Blancos with a frustrating loss and allowing the Xavi-managed Catalan Giants to get the last laugh of this first-legged clash of the Copa del Rey.

 

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Barca the Winner in the 187th El Clásico

Xavi believes that Real Madrid remains the favourite to emerge victorious over two legs of semifinal in this competition, stating that “We have a certain advantage. We will have to compete very well [in the second leg at Camp Nou]. We have defended well. The return home, with our fans, is positive. But I still see Real Madrid as favourites”. The 43-year-old Spaniard also talked about his dissatisfaction in the first leg: “I’m not satisfied… It’s not the percentage we’re looking for. The result is very positive. I’m happy with the work, solid defence, we minimised Real Madrid on their field. The game was difficult. The victory is tremendous [but] we didn’t know how to keep the ball, it was difficult for us to win duels. We defended well without the ball and fought well without the ball.”

As for the losing manager, Ancelotti is determined that his Real Madrid squad will progress to the Copa del Rey Final despite the first leg defeat to arch-nemesis Barcelona. His statement went “The team played well. Barcelona played like they didn’t want to play. We haven’t been good in the last third. Defeat hurts, but if we do the same in the second leg, we have a chance to progress. We played the game we have to play: pressing, playing with intensity. We lacked a goal, but they did nothing to score. They were lucky with a rebound. We have 90 minutes [to turn it around]”.

The second leg of the Copa del Rey Semifinal between Los Blancos and Barca will only take place in April, but fans will not have to wait that long for another El Clásico as both sides are set to clash with each other in the Spanish La Liga less than three weeks from now.

 

Elsewhere in England, Manchester United beat West Ham United 3-1 to reach the quarterfinal of the FA Cup, we have the full details here: https://www.otherleague.com/football/manchester-united-beat-west-ham-united-fa-cup/

Steven Mosier

"Eat, breathe and sleep sports" is the life motto of mine. My professional athlete career ended way earlier than I thought, but the passion remains till the present, which is why I am here writing you all the sports news you crave! Also, I am a huge fan of the Premier League as well the NBA.

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