Xavi’s Barcelona made a statement tonight by following up their two recent defeats with a 1-0 win over an in-form Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid came out strong in front of their home fans, with Luka Modric smashing the side netting from an energetic attack just 25 seconds in.
The home side continued to bring a ferocity and drive to their performance that saw Barcelona struggling to settle themselves in, with Ter Stegen being required on a few occasions in the opening 15 minutes. An offside decision prevented a wonderful finish from Karim Benzema from taking them 1-0 up in this period as they began to assert their dominance on the game.
Despite the opening pressure, Xavi’s men (including a completely new back 4 from their last outing) began to find their footing as they continue to hold off a Madrid barrage. The opening stages of the game saw an electric performance between the famous rivals, and as Barca started to settle themselves in they drew several fouls from their fired up opponents.
The home support at the Bernabau is lit up at this, and tensions begin to boil on the pitch. 24 minutes in, Vinicius Junior receives a yellow card for wrestling Frankie de Jong to the ground.
Que alguien le diga a Vinicius que esto es fútbol soccer, no lucha libre 🤼 🤬
Real Madrid Vs Barça #CopaDelRey pic.twitter.com/zVZ8slGpTj
— FC Barcelona México 🇲🇽 (@fcbarcelonaesmx) March 2, 2023
Just a minute later and Barcelona punish an overzealous Madrid with a goal. Kessie is put into the box and fires a strike between Madrid’s Militao and Nacho, who fail to stop the ball as it fumbles its way between the two backtracking defenders into the back of the net.
This goal should have been cancelled by the referee. Frank kessie was very offside #ElClasico pic.twitter.com/87v3nikZoL
— The StoneCold 💰 👑 (@AJnr120) March 2, 2023
The rest of the half carried on with strong tackles and back and forth attacks, but no further goals. Raphinha received a yellow card for one such challenge with just a couple of minutes to go in the half.
The second half played out very similar to the first. Madrid came out with an electric energy, dominating the possession and the chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
The game remained as physical as before the whistle had blown for the end of the first period, and Barcelona’s Gavi received the first card of the game after a shoving contest with Vinicius Junior as they waited for a corner to be taken. He would be joined by Madrid’s Nacho and his own teammate Kessie a handful of minutes later.
Again as with the first half, Barcelona weathered the ferocious Madrid storm for 15 minutes before themselves enjoying a period of momentum – albeit not anywhere near the extent of the home side’s.
That being said, Barca’s goal scorer Kessie had perhaps the best chance of the second half blocked by his own man, substitute Fati who just couldn’t jump out of the way in time for the strike to take Barcelona 2-0 up.
Franck Kessie had beautiful shot on goal to double the lead but was mistakenly blocked by Ansu Fati to deny the goal #CopaDelRey #ElClasicopic.twitter.com/tGPlIVZhDO
— UthmanFCB ✆ (@UthmanFCB) March 2, 2023
The match levelled out again for a period into a fiery but level contest that saw Federico Valverde and Barcelona’s chief Xavi put in the referee’s book. Madrid had ramped up the pressure for the final 15 minutes of the game with a barrage of attacks that their travelling opponents defended honourably.
As it now stands in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, Barcelona head into their home round of this El Classico match up with a one goal advantage!