Thibaut Courtois said Real Madrid “dominated” and were “really unlucky” to lose 1-0 to Barcelona in their Copa del Rey semifinal first leg on Thursday.
An own goal from Eder Militao in the first half — the ball rebounding off the defender into the net, after goalkeeper Courtois had saved Franck Kessie’s shot — was enough to give Barca the win at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the second leg to come at Camp Nou on April 5.
Following the high of coming back against Liverpool in the Champions League, Real Madrid went and drew to a 10 -man Atletico Madrid side before now falling to Barcelona at home, making it seem like the Liverpool match was actually masking Real Madrid’s issues instead of signaling that the club are where they want to be. Under a month removed from losing to Mallorca, Real Madrid have become a vulnerable side but what are some of the things that are plaguing the team?
Eduardo Camavinga isn’t cutting it in the middle
When Camavinga was signed by Real Madrid from Rennes, he was one of the most sought-after young talents in the world. A central midfielder who could be molded as either a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box one, he has been able to learn from the likes of Casemiro, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos. It doesn’t get much better than that. But now in a year where Carlo Ancelotti has needed Camavinga to step up, he has fallen flat at critical moments in matches.
For Barcelona’s lone goal, it was a giveaway by Camavinga that led to Franck Kessie’s shot that was saved off of Militao, and Camavinga losing the ball starting a counter-attack has become all too common of an occurrence for Real Madrid. He has been fine in defense where his work rate and skills in possession have helped keep Real Madrid balanced but when Ancelotti needs midfielders, Camavinga hasn’t been able to rise to the occasion to shine in the middle of the park. Experience could help him with this but similarly to Luka Jovic being sent to Fiorentina, time waits for no one in Madrid.
Far from the contemplative vision of the derby, Real Madrid had plenty of will but lacked success in the last meters. A contrast with a Barcelona that, conditioned by circumstances, the low key pillars such as Pedri, Dembélé and Lewandowski, had no qualms about giving up his identity for 90 minutes and adapting to a new one. Supplying with battle the drop in quality provided by substitutes. Knowing how to adapt to a type of game in which he had to suffer.
Real Madrid felt the classic as a golden opportunity to feed the doubt of the eternal enemy in his first moment of instability of the course. And he came out wanting to prove it. So many that after a few seconds Modric wasted the clearest opportunity. Surprised to see himself so unmarked but shooting into the side of the net. The drawing of the opposite party to the final of the Spanish Super Cup.
It would have been the prize for the resistance of a Barcelona that limited itself to defending and conceded very little. Carvajal shot into the Madrid sky a precise pass from Kroos before the break and attempts by Vinícius and Camavinga at the start of the second half found no target.
A Real Madrid without a net turned upside down, suffocated Barcelona, did everything well except in the final phase of the game. His siege without a prize had a key factor, the lack of auctioneers. Ancelotti took 67 minutes to put Rodrygo in and 84 to give way to a pure ‘9’ like Álvaro Rodríguez. Little given to the commitment to the quarry, the continuity at the top of Castilla shows deficiencies in planning and the failure in the last attempt with Mariano.
The duels were all won by Real Madrid. The defensive aids, like those of Busquets the day he became the king of the clásico, were from Barcelona. Not even a worthwhile intervention by Ter Stegen, backed by a defensive effort with a prize from his teammates. A long shot from Rodrygo did not prevent a game without shots on goal that increased Madrid’s impotence in the classic and strengthened Barcelona, which has the Copa del Rey final in its hand.
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