Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona :Copa del Rey | Talking Points

Real Madrid 0-3 (1-4 on Aggregate) Barcelona :Copa del Rey | Report and Talking Points

Luis Suarez’s brilliant second-half brace helped Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night, confirming the Blaugrana’s place in the final of the Copa del Rey. 


The match ended 4-1 on aggregate, highlighting the glaring disparity between the two La Liga juggernauts.

Having secured an encouraging 1-1 draw in the first leg at Barcelona’s Camp Nou, Real Madrid fancied themselves to get an early foothold in Wednesday’s match. They started the game on the front foot and allowed Barcelona very little time on the ball. Troubled by Real Madrid’s aggressive pressing, Barcelona decided to soak up the pressure and attack on counters. 

Los Blancos, buoyed by the home support, continued to charge, especially down the left flank. Vinicius Jr, who has been Madrid’s standout performer in recent weeks, was once again at his explosive best and kept Nelson Semedo on his toes. He cut inside on a number of occasions, tried to breach Barcelona’s compactness, but failed to apply the telling touch. Barcelona stopper, Marc Andre Ter Stegen was tested on a couple of occasions in the first half but ended up making some decisive saves to keep his team in the contest.

In the second half, the champions came out all guns blazing and turned the game on its head. Ousmane Dembele teed up Suarez in the 50th minute for Barcelona’s first goal on the night. Next, Real Madrid defender, Raphael Varane, bundled the ball into his own net to double the visitors’ tally, before Suarez converted from the spot to seal Real Madrid’s fate. 

Talking Points

Real Madrid’s Wayward Finishing

Real Madrid needed to be at their best to get something out of their Copa del Rey clash with their bitterest rivals. Sadly, they couldn’t even come remotely close to what was expected. They started the match strongly and kept Barcelona on their toes, but when it came to converting their chances, they frustratingly fell short. 

The youngest member of Santiago Solari’s team, Vinicius Jr, was once again Real Madrid’s most prominent attacker. He took the game to Barcelona and didn’t allow them to take control of the game in the first half. However, due to his tender age and negligible top-flight experience, he couldn’t apply the finishing touch. 

Barcelona Show their Class in Second Half 

Real Madrid were superb in the opening forty-five and ticked all the right boxes except for finding the back of the net. Barcelona, having struggled to cope with Blancos’ relentless pressure in the first half, came out with an improved plan in the second. They used Ousmane Dembele to take the game to Real and ultimate scored the decisive opener. 

After falling behind, Real Madrid couldn’t find it in themselves to come up with a proper response and found themselves two goals down with 20 minutes still to play. Suarez — who scored Barcelona’s first — then converted from the spot to book Barcelona’s place in the final. 

Season Over for Real Madrid

For Real Madrid, last night’s match against Barcelona was a make or break fixture. They find themselves third in La Liga, 9 points adrift of toppers Barcelona, with virtually no hope for a turnaround. In the Champions League, they were thoroughly outplayed by Ajax in the first leg of their last-16 tie and will have to fight tooth and nails to get the better of them in the second leg. 

The embarrassing 3-0 home defeat is bound to take its toll on players, and it would be interesting to see if they can come up with a fitting answer when they take on Barcelona — once again at the Bernabeu — in La Liga on Saturday night.

Also Read: Rivalry beyond years

Real Madrid vs Barcelona :Copa del Rey | Key Players and Prediction

Real Madrid vs Barcelona :Copa del Rey | Key Players and Prediction

European champions Real Madrid welcome La Liga leaders Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday night. 


The two iconic rivals played out a fascinating 1-1 draw in the first leg, at Camp Nou, and will do everything in their power to better that outcome, tonight, in the Spanish capital. 

Real Madrid, due to their inconsistent patches this season, came into the tie as the underdogs. However, at Camp Nou, we saw a totally different Real Madrid in action. They were creating chances, defending religiously, and managed to outplay Barcelona in their own backyard. Lucas Vazquez drew first blood in the 6th minute to set the tempo, which Real Madrid maintained until the final whistle. Barcelona, thanks to a common Marcelo mistake, still got themselves back into the contest through Malcom’s firm strike in the second half. 

So, the 1-1 scoreline does seem like a decent one from Real Madrid’s perspective as they need a goalless draw or better to secure their place in the Copa del Rey final — their first since the 2013/14 campaign. However, considering how great Barcelona have been at the Santiago Bernabeu — without defeat at the Bernabeu since October 2014 — lately, the narrow margin hardly provides any protection. 

Key Players

Barcelona

Lionel Messi

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. The best player in La Liga and possibly the world, Lionel Messi needs to have a spotless game to help his side make it to the finals. Last weekend, the Argentine shrugged off injury concerns to score a decisive hat-trick in a 4-2 win at Sevilla. Tonight, he will once again be marked heavily and will have to put in a shift. But knowing just how capable the Barcelona skipper is, there is no reason for fans to be anxious. Lionel Messi has registered a whopping 33 goals and 18 assists in 32 appearances across all competitions this season and will fancy himself to add to his tally, tonight. 

Real Madrid

Gareth Bale

Following Cristiano Ronaldo‘s departure, the Welshman was supposed to emerge as Real Madrid’s most important, decisive player. Sadly, things haven’t been quite straightforward for the former Tottenham Hotspur ace. During his absence, Vinicius Junior made his way into the team and has managed to make himself an indispensable member of Santiago Solari’s squad. Having lost his place to an 18-year-old, the most expensive player in the squad has been acting out, landing the team in a complicated situation. The Welsh wizard is desperate for an opportunity to win his place back, and an emphatic performance against Real’s fiercest rivals could go a long way in helping his cause. 

Probable XI

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius

https://twitter.com/SergioRamosismo/status/1100417706308919296

Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

Prediction

El Clasico is one of the most decorated and intense rivalries in the world. These two iconic sides have played out some fascinating fixtures over the years, and we expect nothing less tonight. Barcelona seem to be the more in-form team right now, but a desperate Real Madrid will not be an easy team to beat.

We predict Real Madrid to beat Barcelona on penalties.

Also Read: Rivalry beyond years

Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid: 5 key talking points

Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid: 5 key talking points

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.

Here are the five key talking points…

The El Clasico was disappointing

Image Credit: Twitter (Real Madrid)

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!

Coutinho, the torture continues

Image Credit: Twitter (Barcelona)

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.

Vinicius shone in his first Clasico

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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.

Also Read: The next superstar of Real Madrid

Barca without Messi, a dull story

Image Credit: Twitter (Barcelona)

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.

Marcelo, far from his best

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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.

El Clasico: A rivalry that goes far beyond football

El Clasico: A rivalry that goes far beyond football

If there is a football event that immobilizes the world of sports, it is the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, monopolizing the attention of more than 650 million viewers worldwide, proving that it is much more than just a football game. 


When German striker Udo Steinberg scored the first two goals of Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Real Madrid on May 13, 1902, at the Hipodromo Stadium in Madrid he did not know he was writing the first chapter of one of the biggest rivalries in world football. The game with 2 thousand fans was for the semi-finals of the Coronation Cup (predecessor of the Copa Del Rey of Spain). More than a century later, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who face each other on Thursday at the same tournament, monopolize the attention of football fans. Spain is divided in front of this classic and nobody is indifferent.

The story begins

Image Credit: Archivo de El Nacional

Barcelona was born first, on the initiative of the Swiss athlete Joan Gamper, who arrived on Spanish soil for professional reasons. Months later, Gamper put an ad in a sports magazine to invite all the foreign legion of the city, to be part of a new project. The plan on November 29th, 1899 was baptized with the name of Futbol Club Barcelona.

The city of Madrid would also have its equipment. In February 1900 the Madrid Football Club was constituted, and on 6th of March of 1902 is established officially like Real Madrid. By that time, both clubs played and did not go beyond the normal rivalry between the two teams. In fact, the first time they played officially in 1902, the Catalan team won in the semi-final of the Coronation Cup.

The first controversial transfer

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Striker Josep Samitier Vilalta played an important role in the history between both teams. He is the third top scorer in the history of Barca (333), behind Paulino Alcantara (369), and Argentine Lionel Messi (404), current Blaugrana player. He was one of the great figures and emblem of the Catalan box in which he played for 17 years until he signed for Real Madrid in 1933. The event increased the hostility between the two clubs. With the political situation that surrounded, where a change in regime led to a civil war, the country went through a military dictatorship that reinforced the image of FC Barcelona as a figure of Catalan identity that opposed the Spanish government.

Political problems and 11-1

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In the 1930s, the political situation in Spain became complicated after a regime change that would impose a military dictatorship. Barcelona would reinforce its image as a Catalan identity against the Spanish government that banned all languages except Castilian.

During the dictatorship, a Real Madrid vs Barcelona in the semifinal of the Copa del Rey would be played, the Catalans would win at home 3-0, in a match with insults in the stands against Real Madrid. The return, played in Madrid had the bulging Real Madrid victory 11-1, however, before the match, the Spanish army and police went to the dressing room of the Catalan team to intimidate them.

Fernando de Argila, Barcelona’s goalkeeper, said afterwards that the referee told him,

“Look how the stand is. We cannot allow something to happen here. You already know what you have to do.”

Help of Franco to Real Madrid

Image Credit: revistamirall.com

HIRING DI STEFANO

One of the greatest players in history, the Argentine was hired at the same time by Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was not clear which club was the owner of the South American footballer’s rights. The Spanish court ruled that for four years Di Stefano would play each one season in each club. Barcelona refused, considering the absurd decision, and the Argentine turned idol of Madrid.

CONSTRUCTION OF STADIUM

Santiago Bernabeu, a Francoist soldier, was president of the club at the time of the construction of the monumental stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabeu) in the Spanish capital in 1947. The country lived a post-war period and Real Madrid was out of money. Even so, the work ended in less than three years, possibly with the help of the central government, done in a hidden way.

RELATIONSHIP WITH REFEREES

Finally, the rivalry still exposes what would be a rather suspicious relationship between the club and the football referees. The wives of the referees received gifts from Real Madrid. The growth of the Madrid club would be a project of Franco to become a propaganda agent of the regime in the rest of the world.

Impact of Johan Cruyff and Michael Laudrup

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On February 17, 1974, Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid 0-5 in their own backyard. Johan Cruyff silenced the Bernabeu with his football being decisive of that historical marker. That Barca would win the League again 14 years later.

20 years after the win at the Bernabeu, Johan Cruyff would repeat another 5-0 as Barca coach. The coach changed the philosophy of the club by winning 4 consecutive leagues and the coveted European Cup in Wembley (1992). The “Manita” achieved in the 1993-1994 season was the culmination of a glorious stage with the benches.

A year and a day later, Real Madrid returned the “Manita” in 1994-95. Zamorano, Luis Enrique and Amavisca scored on a historic night that ended with Cruyff’s “Dream Team”. It was the first year of Michael Laudrup in white, who took revenge on his former team. The Whites recovered the League after 4 consecutive League wins of the Catalans.

Luis Enrique and the historic transfer of Luis Figo

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In the summer of 1996, Luis Enrique signed with Barcelona. The Spaniard had not triumphed in the Real house but he managed perfectly with the Barca feeling. As soon as he arrived in Barcelona, he reneged on his Madrid past and was inflated to score goals against his ex-club.

Luis Figo took the opposite path in the year 2000. Florentino Perez reached an agreement with the captain of Barcelona and won the presidential elections of Real Madrid holding the Portuguese hand. The whites paid the clause of 60 million euros to get the star of their biggest rival. In October, Madrid visited Camp Nou and Figo received the “boo” of the century. The fans call him Judas, they threw tickets with his picture.

In 2002 Figo returned to the Camp Nou but this time he decided not to be impressed. The atmosphere was very hostile again and every time he got close to taking the corner, objects of all kinds rained down on him. Among them, a bottle of whiskey and a head of suckling pig. The game was interrupted for a few minutes but it resumed despite the hostility. The score of 0-0 was practically anecdotal.

The Present Era

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Since the turn of the century, the two Spanish giants have won nine of the 17 Champions League titles. They’ve also soaked up all but three La Liga titles since 2001 as the duopoly sinks its hooks deeper into the coffers of Spanish soccer. As two of the dominant sides in Europe, Real and Barcelona have become destinations for the world’s greatest players. Since Figo’s transfer between the two El Clasico rivals in 2000, five of the past six latest world-record transfer fees in the new century have involved players either moving to or from a Spanish club.

There was nothing that guaranteed El Clasico would turn into the biggest rivalry game in the world. Most rivalries in soccer around the globe are predicated on proximity; Barcelona and Madrid are more than 300 miles apart. But they’ve both been good regularly, and at the same time, and that certainly helps build bad blood between two teams.

The combination of a long history of competition against one another, the politics that inevitably come to shape the evolution of particular clubs and fan bases and the fact that the two clubs have historically been perennial contenders have all played a role in developing the rivalry we now know as El Clasico. Keep that in mind when you see the two teams square away in the next edition of a legendary duel.

The Superstars

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El Clasico has always been memorable for the quality of players on display. The likes of Di Stefano, Emilio Butrageuno, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho, and of modern times Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, have all graced Clasicos down the years. It is a shame, therefore, that the modern-day Clasico has often been overshadowed by play-acting and simulation from both sides. The soccer seems to have taken a back seat, with the amount of yellow and red cards being the more important statistic. But whilst these two great teams remain rivals, El Clasico, the second-most watched soccer match in the world, will continue to be a spectacle for all.

Also Read: Lesser known fact about Messi

Copa del Rey: Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Messi-Less Blaugrana Stumble in Seville

Copa del Rey: Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Messi-Less Blaugrana Stumble in Seville

Goals from Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder helped Sevilla to a 2-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday night.


Having lost to Real Madrid in their previous fixture, in La Liga, Sevilla were desperate to return to winning ways against the Copa del Rey holders, and their performance on the night reflected their intent.

The hosts started the game on the front foot and looked determined to break the deadlock right from the first minute. Barcelona, who were without most of their first-choice players, failed to cope with Sevilla’s relentless pressing and were forced to drop deep.

Barcelona players offered almost no resistance, as Sevilla players bombarded their final third. However, despite dominating every single aspect of play in the first half, the hosts failed to get themselves on the scoresheet, as none of their six attempts on goal managed to trouble the Blaugrana stopper.

Sevilla, once again, came out all guns blazing in the second half. The visitors threatened in bits and pieces, but they, too, were just as awful in front of goal. Pablo Machin’s side finally broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, with Pablo Sarabia’s smart finish handing the Rojiblancos a much-deserved lead. They doubled their advantage in the 76th minute, as Ben Yedder converted from a defence-splitting Ever Banega cross.

Barcelona tried their best to cut the deficit but lacked the conviction to punish an inspiring Sevilla outfit.

 

Starting XI

Sevilla: Soriano; Gomez, Kjaer, Mercado; Escudero, Banega, Amadou, Navas; Sarabia; Promes, Ben Yedder.

Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Lenglet, Pique, Roberto; Artur, Rakitic, Vidal; Alena, Boateng, Malcom;

 

Talking Points: A Deserving Sevilla Win

Pablo Machin’s Sevilla have enjoyed a successful campaign so far, and last night’s performance was yet another feather in their cap. Despite going against the defending champions, they didn’t show even a hint of nervousness and took the game by the scruff of its neck.

The hosts were at their best in the first half and really deserved a goal mark their superiority. They did well to keep up the tempo in the second half and secure a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg at Camp Nou.

Boateng’s Debut

In Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez’s absence, new Barcelona signing, Kevin-Prince Boateng, was handed his Barcelona debut at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday night. Thanks to Sevilla’s determination, Boateng didn’t have much to work with and was largely restricted to non-threatening areas.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde chose to start most of the second-string players, who themselves are still not fully accustomed to the team’s style of play. As a result, the 31-year-old looked isolated and failed to make any sort of impact.

No Messi, No Party, Again

Valverde took the bold decision of leaving Barcelona skipper, Lionel Messi, out of the squad for the first-leg, hoping other members of the team would step up and avoid an embarrassment. Sadly, they didn’t.

The Catalan outfit were looking out of their element right from the first minute and allowed Sevilla to walk all over them. Without Messi, they lacked creativity up top and barely threatened the Sevilla back-line. Only 1 of their 10 goal attempts was on target – a proper reflection of Barcelona’s hapless state without their ingenious captain.

Barcelona’s next fixture sees them welcome Girona to Camp Nou in La Liga on Sunday.

Copa del Rey: Real Madrid’s Only Realistic Hope for Silverware

Copa del Rey: Real Madrid's Only Realistic Hope for Silverware

It’s been an unpredictable season for Real Madrid. Technically, they are still competing on all three fronts; but realistically, it’s only the Copa del Rey they can hope to lift at the end of the campaign. 


The most successful club in Europe, Real Madrid, have always had an insatiable hunger for success. We’ve seen countless managerial changes and player transfers over the years, but the heart of Madrid has always been the same, aching for silverware.

After winning three Champions Leagues and one La Liga in just three seasons under Zinedine Zidane, the club were meant to return to normalcy, sooner or later. But no one probably expected the change to be so abrupt and jarring.

Julen Lopetegui’s ill-fated Real Madrid stint ended just after the crushing 5-1 defeat at Barcelona. Out of options, the club promoted their B team coach, Santiago Solari, who, in no way, had the qualification to lead the star-studded senior side.

Also Read: Zlatan slams Ronaldo for joining Real Madrid

Madrid bounced back with four consecutive wins, but the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Eibar at the end of November gave the club a harsh reality check. Since then, it has been an unpredictable saga of disappointment, mediocrity, and, more often than not, despair.

Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprising and gut-wrenching departure in the summer, Real Madrid needed to sign a proven striker to mask the absence of their record goalscorer. Instead, they brought Mariano Diaz back from Lyon, hoping for him to keep the team’s primary goalscorer, Karim Benzema, on his toes.

So far, the plan hasn’t paid dividends, as both strikers have struggled with niggling injuries and inconsistent showings in front of goal. Gareth Bale, who was meant to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s worthy successor, has also been a major disappointment. Like every other season, he has missed a good number of games due to injuries, leaving his side pale and uninspiring up top. Other stars, who used to look world class under Zinedine Zidane, have been reduced to their mortal, mediocre selves. They are seemingly struggling with fatigue and complacency – the two most damaging traits to a team with Real Madrid’s ambitions.

Standing at the midway point of the season, Real Madrid find themselves 10 points behind La Liga leaders, Barcelona, who are, once again, running away with the title. In the Champions League, Real Madrid will take on a spirited Ajax side in the round-of-16. On paper, it doesn’t seem to be too big of a tie for the reigning European champions; but Solari’s Real Madrid look and feel a lot different than Zidane’s champions.

That leaves us with the King’s Cup – a trophy Madrid have never been too fond of. They last won it in 2014, under La Decima hero Carlo Ancelotti, and have been an utter disappointment in the competition, since. Last year, they were knocked out by a lowly Leganes side in the quarter-finals, proving how careless they have been in the competition.

This year, Los Blancos have a 3-0 last-16 advantage going into Wednesday’s second leg at Leganes, and Solari’s Madrid better realize just how crucial this tie is for them. Yes, they are not the biggest fans of the competition, and the medals aren’t as shiny as some of the other tournaments’; but, in reality, it still is a major trophy, and it could end up saving Solari’s job at the end of the season.

Solari might end up pulling off something spectacular and lead Madrid to their fourth successive Champions League trophy. But judging by their performances, and the way the Argentinian has managed his side, even dreaming about it seems like a bit of a stretch. For now, winning the Copa del Rey should be one of Madrid’s primary objectives, and the very first step will be to put on a show against a spirited Leganes side on Wednesday.

Copa del Rey: Levante 2-1 Barcelona – Match Report and Talking Points as Holders Succumb to Shock Defeat

Copa del Rey: Levante 2-1 Barcelona - Match Report and Talking Points as Holders Succumb to Shock Defeat

Defending champions, Barcelona, fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at Levante in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night. 


Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral’s quickfire double inside the opening 18 minutes knocked Barcelona off their porch, sending the home fans into a frenzy. Philippe Coutinho dispatched a well-taken penalty in the 85th minute to cut the deficit for Barcelona, salvaging one crucial away goal from an otherwise disappointing night.

The hosts started threatening their lofty rivals right from the very beginning and got themselves a goal just after four minutes of play. Ruben Rochina’s well-taken free-kick found Erick Cabaco inside the area, who outleapt every Barcelona defender to put the ball past a helpless Jasper Cillessen.

Despite securing a 1-0 goal lead over the defending champions, the Granotas didn’t rest on their laurels and kept piling bodies forward. And after 14 minutes of relentless pressure, their dominance reflected handsomely on the scoreboard. Emmanuel Boateng’s clever pass set on-loan Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral through on goal, who made his parent club proud by slotting the ball into the far corner.

Also Read: Mid Season Review – Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Barcelona, too, had their moments, but they came too far and few between. Malcom and Ousmane Dembele had their efforts saved by Levante stopper, Aitor Fernandez, but there weren’t many clear cut chances in the first half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, the hosts had the chance to put the game to bed when Jose Luis Morales found himself one-on-one with Cillessen. The Spaniard, frustratingly, lost his composure and lifted his effort over the goal.

After evading a scare, Barcelona won themselves a lifeline when Denis Suarez was scythed down inside the area. The referee pointed to the spot and Coutinho made no mistake converting from 12 yards out.

Talking Points

Levante’s Spirited Display

The visitors started the game on the front foot and unsettled the Barcelona backline right from the very beginning. Erick Cabaco’s opener made them even hungrier, as they hounded Barcelona for every inch of the playing area.

Barcelona hammered Levante 5-0 at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia in La Liga on December 16 and were the undisputed favorites to bag all three points, last night. The hosts, however, put the scarring defeat behind them and produced a truly remarkable performance.

Another Disappointing Barcelona Display

The Blaugrana have a solid five-point advantage at the top of La Liga, but they, in no way, look as intimidating as they are supposed to. Ernesto Valverde’s side were once again unconvincing at the back and offered little to no resistance to the onrushing Levante forwards.

Levante’s opening goal was almost a gift from a disoriented back line, who virtually deserted their goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen. The Catalans didn’t learn from their initial mishap and kept allowing Levante to stroll inside the penalty box. Thankfully, their keeper was in an inspiring form on the night and stopped his team from falling further behind.

No Messi, No Party

Lionel Messi starred with a hat-trick in Barcelona’s emphatic 5-0 win at Levante, back in December. Sadly, he wasn’t on the pitch last night to inspire his side to yet another famous victory.

Keeping the upcoming La Liga fixtures in mind, Valverde fielded a much-changed Barcelona on Thursday. Most members of the starting XI don’t always get the opportunity to play together, but in no way should they look that much disinterested in a knockout cup fixture. There’s no denying the fact that Messi is Barcelona’s most important player, but this much dependence on a player could really prove to be catastrophic for the defending champions.