Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: Frenkie de Jong dominates star midfield as Ronald Araujo pockets Vinicius
Barcelona have the advantage in the Copa del Rey semi-finals after their 1-0 win over Real Madrid.
For those who may have forgotten, the Copa del Rey semi-finals are a two-legged affair meaning fans are being treated to two Clasicos within a month as Barcelona and Real Madrid face off for a spot in the final.
At the halfway stage of the tie, only an own goal from Eder Militao separates these two sides after an unsurprisingly right affair on Thursday night.
Here’s how the players rated at the Santiago Bernabeu:
Thibaut Courtois – 6 – Came out quickly to close Kessie’s shot down but got an unfortunate bounce. Didn’t really have anything else to do past that.
Dani Carvajal – 7 – Produced a good pass to Modric who was only slightly offside in the opening minute and was getting forward quite a bit. Made a great run into box towards end of first half but tried a finish that just isn’t in his skillset, a first-time volley. Defended well up against Gavi.
Eder Militao – 7 – The unfortunate man to bundle the ball into the back of his own net having also lost the battle of strength with Kessie. But that was a blip on a decent night in which he didn’t have too much to do.
Antonio Rudiger – 7 – Like his centre-back partner he wasn’t troubled too much as Barcelona had just four shots.
Nacho Fernandez – 6 – Had a battle on his hands up against Raphinha and Araujo while trying to provide cover for Vinicius. Didn’t do too badly and was often seen overlapping but also didn’t test Barcelona enough.
Real Madrid's form at home this season in all comps:
Barcelona hand them their first L. 🛑 pic.twitter.com/qxyPRc3nVu
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 2, 2023
Eduardo Camavinga – 5 – He’s been good this season but unfortunately his game will be remembered for giving the ball away in the build up to the Barcelona goal with a sloppy pass. However, this was a game in which the entire Real Madrid midfield struggled.
Toni Kroos – 6 – Decent enough in the midfield but didn’t have as much control of the game as Real Madrid will have hoped. Taken off as he showed signs of tiring later in the second half.
Luka Modric – 5 – Made a good run inside the opening minute though it was slightly mistimed, correctly called for offside. Otherwise on the periphery of the game and not quite up to pace. An off night for the Croatian.
Federico Valverde – 7 – Good work first on the right wing and then playing more central after half-time.
Karim Benzema – 5 – Quiet but had a very good finish correctly ruled out for offside in the first half. Real Madrid definitely needed more from him.
Vinicius Junior – 6 – Was very busy but not effective at all, completely shut down by Araujo. At one point it did look as though he was going to be sent off having been affected by a couple of rough challenges and some goading from Barcelona’s players.
Rodrygo (for Nacho 67) – 6 – Added some attacking threat but couldn’t help find a breakthrough.
Aurelien Tchouameni (for Kroos 74) – 6 – Brought in much needed fresh legs to the Real Madrid midfield.
Alvaro Rodriguez (for Modric 84) – N/A – A late sub.
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Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 8 – An excellent night for the German. Read practically every cross sent into his box perfectly, catching them with relative ease.
Ronald Araujo – 9 – When Vinicius is doing his weekly big shop, at whatever the Spanish equivalent of Sainsbury’s or Tesco is, he’ll be looking over both shoulders expecting Araujo to be somewhere behind him. It was a fantastic defensive performance from the Uruguayan who completely nullified Vinicius’ end product and wasn’t afraid to press higher up the pitch. Let’s not forget this is a centre-back playing at right-back.
Jules Kounde – 8 – Rock solid in defence, wonderfully keeping Karim Benzema quiet.
Marcos Alonso – 8 – This is not the Marcos Alonso who Chelsea let go in the summer, the Spanish left-back/wing-back who couldn’t defend. This is a new man, a competent defender more than capable of holding his own at centre-back. Another strong performance.
Alejandro Balde – 8 – Completing the excellent Barcelona backline, Balde was definitely the more defensive of the two full-backs but did his job perfectly.
FT: Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
Shots on target: 0-2
Accurate passes: 599-309
Los Blancos fail to register a single shot on target in #ElClasico. 😳 pic.twitter.com/DokfqT0jdT
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Franck Kessie – 7 – He won’t get the goal but Kessie made a good off-the-ball run to find some space in the Real Madrid box before holding off Militao to get a shot away, forcing the own goal. Should have Good run for goal and strength to hold off Militao to get shot off. Should have had a goal of his own in the second half but his shot was blocked by Fati. A solid performance from the Ivorian.
Sergio Busquets – 5 – The only weak link of the Barcelona midfield, Busquets once again looked off the pace and out of the match for far too long. He wouldn’t be playing if it weren’t for Pedri’s injury and it was clear to see why.
Frenkie de Jong – 8 – The best midfielder on the pitch without a shadow of a doubt. Ran the show for Barcelona and did the work of two men to ensure they had the control of the crucial midfield battle.
Raphinha – 7 – Another strong performance from the Brazilian both in defence and attack. He’s perhaps showing more defensively right now, providing good support for Araujo, but Raphinha did test himself against Nacho a couple of times and came out on top. Switched to the left shortly before coming off and also tested Carvajal but Barca fans will want more end product from him.
Ferran Torres – 6 – It was a strange game for Torres. He played in a great pass to Kessie in the build up to the goal but the tight offside decision (then overturned by VAR) came because he had held onto the ball for longer than he needed to. Wasn’t making the right runs as a centre-forward but improved after switching to the right wing.
Gavi – 5 – Kept really quiet by Balde and showed more intent to fight the Real Madrid players than beat them the footballing ability we know he has. An off night.
Ansu Fati (for Raphinha 69) – 5 – Blocked Kessie’s shot when he looked to be putting Barcelona 2-0 up. It’s just not working out for him right now.
Sergi Roberto (for Kessie 86) – N/A – A late sub.