Barcelona winger Malcom’s second-half strike secured a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid to leave the Copa del Rey semi-final evenly poised on Wednesday after the first leg at the Nou Camp.
Real went ahead through Lucas Vazquez in the sixth minute following a brilliant assist from Karim Benzema. Messi came off the Barca bench on 63 minutes but, despite plenty of threat, could not help his side find a winner. Malcom, who started in place of Lionel Messi, curled home in the 58th minute to pull Barcelona level in the high-profile clash.
— Real Madrid C.F.⚽ (@realmadrid) February 6, 2019
Here are the five key talking points…
5. The El Clasico was disappointing
Yes, this Clasico was disappointing. But does this result guarantee a good return match? With this draw 1-1, Barcelona will be forced to make a result in Santiago Bernabeu to obtain a qualification, and it is safe to bet that Valverde will field his first team to carry out this mission. And that’s all we ask. Because without a real offensive leader, the Blaugrana seemed lost. Upon entering the field in the 63rd minute, Lionel Messi took things in hand and could have scored twice (on a free kick, then from a shot in a closed corner, the 68th minute and 82nd minute. This result promises suspense for the return match, and Clasicos with intensity are often the best. Highly on February 27th!
4. Coutinho, the torture continues
It is now absolute transparent that Philippe Coutinho is not at his best. In the absence of Ousmane Dembele, it was Coutinho who accompanied Malcom and Suarez on the front of the attack of Barcelona. Positioned on the left side, the impact of the Brazilian international was totally erased by Real right-back Dani Carvajal. It must also be said that Coutinho did not do much to show himself. Author of an insipid first half, the former Liverpool player timidly tried to worry Navas thereafter, without much success. With this kind of performance from his counterpart, Dembele should quickly regain his position in the team upon his return from injury.
3. Vinicius shone in his first Clasico
In the first El Clasico of his football career, Vinicius Junior did not disappoint. Very striking on his left side, the Brazilian alternated between speed and technicality. In the origin of the Madrid goal, he distilled the centre that allowed Benzema to serve Lucas Vazquez (6th minute). Excluding some inaccuracies, he could, have done even better. However, he managed to show that he was a potential threat to be reckoned with. A Real rough diamond, Vinicius should continue to polish in a Madrid workforce where he finds more and more his place alongside Karim Benzema.
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2. Barca without Messi, a dull story
Ahead of the classic game, All the talk was over whether Lionel Messi would make it or not. The Argentine eventually appeared from the bench in the 63rd minute and this was the first time he has faced Madrid this season, having been injured for the 5-1 win over them here in October. Once he came on, Madrid played differently, knowing they had to limit the Argentine threat, and this will be a far greater indication of what the second leg will look like. Barcelona fans roared so loudly when Messi entered the fray it sounded like the team had scored, and to tell the truth, his presence is usually worth at least a goal. But without their talisman, Barcelona was a dull prospect all around the field. At that time Madrid’s backline also held pretty comfortably as the home side repeatedly fell short of an incisive final pass.
1. Marcelo, far from his best
Now relegated to the bench for the La Liga matches by Santiago Solari, Marcelo had not played a big game for a long time. On Wednesday, we understood why. Nelson Semedo and Malcom made a mouthful of the Brazilian, using speed and splitting for 75 minutes. All the hot chances of Barcelona were from Marcelo’s side in this match. From the 19th minute, when Malcom was on his back for a missed face-off against Keylor Navas, and until the 82nd minute, when Arturo Vidal served Nelson Semedo, and a dangerous strike from Lionel Messi, Marcelo was off-colour. In short, he did everything wrong in defence, and it was not better in the attack also. Renowned for his offensive impact, the lateral did not bring anything. Let’s hope Real that it is Sergio Reguilon who plays the return match.