Real Madrid 1 FC Barcelona 1 (Copa del Rey Semi-Final first leg)

real madrid 1-1 barcelona piqué ronaldoA goal from Raphael Varane ten minutes from time denied Barça a victory at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium tonight. Cesc Fabregas has given Barça the lead early in the second half but Barça missed chances to add further goals and Varane’s equalizer now leaves the tie wide open for the second leg at Camp Nou in four weeks’ time.

As expected Jordi Roura opted for Barça’s cup once de gala with Pinto in goal, Alves, Piqué, Puyol and Alba in defence, a midfield of Xavi, Busquets and Fabregas, and Pedro, Messi and Iniesta leading the line. José Mourinho had to deal with the absences of Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao and Di Maria. His big surprise was giving a debut to new signing Diego Lopez in goal, which suggests quite clearly that Antonio Adan was used in Mourinho’s ongoing dispute with Casillas, going with a starting XI of Diego Lopez, Essien, Varane, Carvalho, Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Callejon, Ozil, Ronaldo, Benzema in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Right from the start Madrid pushed high to try and unsettle Barça’s possession game. In the very first minute Pedro was robbed and Ronaldo got a run at Piqué which ended with a yellow card for the Barça defender, though the replay suggested the Portuguese striker took a dive. From the resulting free kick Ronaldo hit a wicked swerver that Pinto did well to get his hand to.

Barça took about ten minutes to begin to get a hold on things, but as soon as Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Fabregas began to find each other the chances began to come. Messi dribbled in from the right but after passing back to Fabregas he strayed offside for the return. Then in the twelfth minute Iniesta scooped a delightful chip over the defence for Alba’s run into the area but the full back pulled a difficult volley across the goal and well wide.

Barça were now dominating possession (32%-68% after 20 minutes) but Madrid’s pressing in the first half, with Ozil looking very lively, meant some mistakes crept into Barça’s game. Xavi was robbed about 30 yards out, leading to Benzema receiving a pass on the right of the area but his cross was just too high for Ronaldo. However, the better chances were coming at the other end. First Xavi curled a free kick crashing against the crossbar, then Lopez had to come out quickly at Pedro’s feet, then in the 24th minute Fabregas intercepted an underhit backpass from Carvalho before playing a pass back for Xavi whose low shot was miraculously cleared off the line by Varane.

Barça should have been in front by now but in the 27th minute Benzema had Madrid’s best chance of the half. Xavi again lost the ball in Barça’s half, the ball came forward to Callejon who found Benzema in a good position to the left but after a good first control the French striker volleyed just wide from inside the area.

There was a short period with defences on top with Essien making one good tackle to prevent Messi going through, and Busquets stopping a dangerous run from Ozil. Then in the 35th minute Callejon was sent through on the right, with Alves playing him onside, but the Brazilian full back made up for this by getting in front of Benzema to clear when Callejon’s low cross came in though both Alves and Benzema smashed into Pinto who needed treatment before continuing. The first half ended with some end-to-end stuff but the defences again got the better of the exchanges with Varane doing very well to prevent Alba’s surge into the area and Piqué, at the other end, classily cutting out Ozil’s pass.

real madrid 1-1 barcelona fabregas goal celebrationEarly in the second half Benzema fired over after exchanging passes with Ronaldo but Barça took the lead soon after. Fabregas had already had one mishit shot hit Varane after an intricate build-up with Messi and Iniesta, then in the 50th minute Messi tried a diagonal ball towards Pedro who had moved to the left, Callejon got back to intercept but his clearance didn’t go far and Messi pounced on it, Madrid’s defence all moved out except for Callejon, and when Messi knocked the ball forward for Fabregas, Callejon left him onside and Fabregas went clean through before shooting across Lopez and inside the far post.

real madrid 1-1 barcelona ronaldo missThe goal appeared to make things easier for Barça. Varane had to make another excellent last ditch intervention to prevent Fabregas after Iniesta’s chip forward, but Madrid weren’t out of it yet. One good build up ended with Modric finding Essien on the right and for once Barça’s defence hesitated when the cross came in, and despite the bounce making the opportunity more difficult, Ronaldo will have been very disappointed to send his header wide at the far post. There were these brief moments of Madrid danger but Barça continued to dominate possession, offering one rondo of more than a minute that had the Bernabéu whistling their frustration. A skillful combination between Alba and Iniesta on the left gave Iniesta the chance to set up Alves for a drive, but the Brazilian couldn’t repeat his cup golazo from last season, this time firing straight at Lopez.

Madrid seemed to be running out of options but one break from Khedira freed Ozil on the right, again a dangerous low cross came in but Piqué did brilliantly to get to the ball before Ronaldo and knock the ball out for a corner. Piqué needed treatment for a whack on the arm and there was an interesting incident after when Piqué picked up a lighter thrown from the crowd but as he started to attract the referee’s attention Puyol pulled him back, telling him to forget it and get on with concentrating on the game.

Barça got back to controlling the game and the tie could easily have been sewn up in the next ten minutes. Fabregas had a half volley hit too high after Alves’s cross, then in the 73rd minute Fabregas sent a glorious long ball forward for Pedro to chase, the Canarian ran and ran, from the halfway line and into the penalty area, he kept going until he reached the edge of the six-yard box but finally pulled his shot just wide of the far post.

Messi had been having one of his less-effective games but after Arbeloa and Alonso had both patronising patted his cheek as he protested a decision, he briefly came to life. First he was just offside after Alexis, on for Pedro, had done well to slip a pass through, then twice he was denied, first by Varane’s good tackle and a minute later by Lopez who was out quickly to intercept Fabregas’s pass.

Barça paid for the missed chances in the 81st minute. Varane had been the hero for Madrid in defence and now he turned up in Barça’s area, leaping above Piqué and Fabregas to head Ozil’s cross from the right past Pinto. Barça’s keeper got his hand to the ball but Varane’s header bounced first and was extremely difficult to keep out.

There was still time for either side to win the game. Alba made one last charge forward but Diego did well to get a hand to his powerful shot from the edge of the area. Then in injury time Alba was diving in front of his own goal to head a clearance out for corner. There was a last chance in the final seconds but Puyol got in the way to block. It would have been unjust for Madrid to sneak it at the death.

real madrid 1-1 barcelona fabregas callejonAlthough the result can be looked at as positive, we really let Madrid off the hook here. We can be happy with the performance but unfortunately we didn’t kill the game when we should have, and we may end up regretting the chances from Xavi, Pedro, Fabregas, Alba and Messi. In my preview I predicted a 3-3 draw and given how open the game was it could well have ended like that but for the goalkeepers and the first-rate games from Piqué and Varane. However, given the run of play and the quality of the chances it could just as easily have finished 1-4 or 2-5 as predicted in the comments section by FC Barcelona Rocks, Diatus and Bc9jaCule. It’s now all to play for in the second leg on February 27 at Camp Nou.

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez; Essien, Varane, Carvalho, Arbeloa; Xabi Alonso, Khedira; Callejon (Modric m58), Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema (Higuian m62).

Barça: Pinto 7; Alves 7.5, Piqué 8.5, Puyol 7.5, Alba 7; Xavi 7, Busquets 7, Fabregas 7.5 (Thiago m85, –); Pedro 6.5 (Alexis m76, 6.5), Messi 6.5, Iniesta 8.

Goals: m50 Fabregas 0-1, m81 Varane 1-1.

Yellow cards: m1 Piqué, m16 Carvalho, m42 Callejon, m72 Alves, m82 Puyol, m89 Xavi Alonso.

Attendance: 70,000


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20 Responses to Real Madrid 1 FC Barcelona 1 (Copa del Rey Semi-Final first leg)

  1. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Okay…i have cooled down now….had 4 cigarettes since match end. Thought about it real hard. And still ,,,my mind tells me that David Villa should have played a part in this game. I really still don’t get why Alexis starts over him. Why did we bring Thiago instead of him?? Villa’s passing is good. His speed is decent,,,his workrate is good. Then why not him instead of any of those 2?? I don’t get it…..Villa could have killed the tie for us….he would have just needed 25 minutes towards the end of the 2nd half. The subs chosen really irked me!! I hurt my ankle real bad as i kicked the tea table over…resulting in 2 glasses broken and a open wound. I still feel shitty abt this. It is to note that however great Tito and Jordi is….we have yet to record a win against Madrid under them….I am very worried by the poor decision making made by the technical staff in regards of playing David Villa

  2. ewe_gb says:

    “….Although the result can be looked at as positive, we really let Madrid off the hook here. We can be happy with the performance but unfortunately we didn’t kill the game when we should have, and we may end up regretting the chances ….”

    100% agreed and signed

    Tonight’s poor finishing can cost very dearly at Camp Nou. Chances to prevail will bei 50:50.

    I hope I am wrong but might understand that Villa will move to England today. Actually I would have brought him after Fabregas’ goal and somehow I had the feeling the team didn’t .”know” what to do after the first goal.

    Piques was sublime as was Varane. The latter was the Man of the Match, imho.

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      Actually I would have brought him after Fabregas’ goal and somehow I had the feeling the team didn’t .”know” what to do after the first goal.

      EXACTLY!!! I WAS THINKING JUST THE SAME. INFACT, I WOULD NEVER EVER CONSIDER ANY SORT OF PARTICIPATION FOR ALEXIS SANCHEZ IN THIS MATCH AS WELL. Heck, i would have even gone for Song instead of Thiago…to give the physical edge in midfield..

      • yossof rockn says:

        wth thiago is amazing and alexis gives a wide playing field therefor stretching the defence
        honestly i miss villa but who i think would have done great was montoya amazing
        but we have an away goal

  3. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Owh well even Pinto gets more starting chances as compared to David Villa the whole season…FML

  4. You were right predicting a tie…

  5. ewe_gb says:

    and about the preference for sanchez instead of david villa: I just don’t simply get it. actually, it annoys me to put it politely.

    as far as the strategy goes I just don’t understand why roura didn’t instruct the squad to try to kill the game and for this I will always bring villa and feed him with his through balls or chips after fabregas scored the lead.

    so I think that it was not the most clever of all tactical decisions to wait for the subs so long and to bring the subs roura brought, imho.

    • yossof rockn says:

      dude think of it like this sanchez goes back to defense villa doesnt
      messi was lacking his game to so its not really because david villa didnt come in its because the best plaer in the worlld didnt do that good

  6. Pingback: Real Madrid 1 FC Barcelona 1 (Copa del Rey Semi-Final first leg) « Views From The Bullpen

  7. bc9jaCule says:

    Wow, just WOW! Typical end-to-end stuff. Pique and Varane were world class last night. It’s just quite unfortunate that our finishing desserted us because we could have killed the tie with about 3 or more goals and might end up not conceding any. Not saying they didn’t have their few chances too but ours were just so clear-cut and much more. What I don’t understand also is why Villa didn’t get a minimum of 30mins after his superb outing against Osasuna at the weekend. Well, it’s all bygone now and we must regroup and make up for the tie in the 2nd leg @ home.

    Visca Barca!!!!!
    Forca Barca!!!!!
    I hate it when referees deliberately raise their flags for false offside calls on us, especially when it’s Messi that’s through on goal. It happened against Osasuna as well when Messi received a glorious through ball which he generously squared for Villa before being erroneously flagged offside. Holy Mary!!! Messi was GLARINGLY onside for a glorious through ball in the first half last night but the linesman mischieviously raised the flag knowing Messi would have most probably scored. In fact, I remember Roura gesturing his disapproval of that decision. Again, there was a moment where Messi was clear on goal in the first half and Essien just badged into him from behind knowing fully well that Messi had beaten him for pace, yet, the flag stayed down and the referee’s whistle surprisingly didn’t sound because the officials knew it would have been a straight RED. These injustices are so unfair and must STOP.

  8. John Sewell says:

    One statistic shown on TV last night summed it up for me – after 65 minutes the fouls committed were Madrid 15, Barca 1………

  9. Caleb says:

    Some players somehow avoid yellow cards while committing numerous fouls (Khedira, Alonso – even though he was booked, somehow he avoids it for much of the game).

    Our finishing was really disappointing. I’m still feeling a bit uneasy about Messi. He’s scoring a lot, but I just feel like certain parts of his game aren’t what they used to be (but, on the other side of the coin, he only seems to get better at finding goals).

    I don’t know. Hopefully we can make it happen in Barca.

  10. barcacentralnic says:

    Here’s my take on the substitutions. First, let me say I also agree that Villa would have been more likely to score a second goal for us, as there is no doubt he is a better finisher than Alexis. However, there are many factors to making substitutions to be considered. First, at 0-1 we were playing our best football of the game and creating more chances than Madrid, so for me it made sense not to change anything for as long as we did. With fifteen minutes remaining I imagine the idea was to ‘get some fresh legs on up front’, also that with the goal advantage it might be normal to be thinking more about not conceding than about scoring again. In this sense Villa may have been overlooked due to his poor defending at Osasuna’s goal on Sunday when he allowed Osasuna’s right back Marc Bertran an easy run to the line to cross. Roura spoke about ‘small details’ before the match and this type of thing is just as important to the team. I’m not saying I agree with the decision, just trying to understand it. I imagine if we were losing in a one-off game with 15 minutes to go then Villa would have been the chosen substitution but as things were we didn’t ‘really really need’ the goal in the same way. Another important factor is that we can’t tell the individual player’s particular mood on the day, the coach has the closeness to the players to pick up on sensations that might influence decisions. Here we can decide to trust in Vilanova and Roura (or not) and I have full confidence in their ability. Yesterday’s substitutions didn’t work out and with hindsight it is easy to say what we should have done and what would have happened if we had, but in reality none of us know how things would have turned out if we’d done things differently. Here’s hoping for more minutes for Villa in the coming games..

    • bc9jaCule says:

      You actually nailed it, Nic. Everyone becomes a professional in hindsight. However, Villa DESERVED some minutes last night because he’s been playing virtually all the cup games and when the most challenging tie came up, was relegated to the bench, again – despite his recent show of vibrancy-cum-consistency. Now I think such gestures might do more harm on him both physically and psychologically than his actual level of fitness. In fact, he might feel detached from the team and ask to leave in the summer. Just saying.

      • barcacentralnic says:

        I agree that Villa may very well end up leaving in the summer and it will be a great shame if we do lose him. However, I think most would agree that team selection should never became a case of ‘if-you don’t-play-me-I’m-leaving’. If anything it is the players showing most ambition/desire who should be favoured and this might be a reason for continuing with Alexis, (though we might also mention the negative effect of over-anxiety here)
        I’m sure Villa would never give the coach an ultimatum but it would be totally understandable if, like Maxwell or Keita, he decides he wants more regular football elsewhere.

  11. barcacentralnic says:

    The point I’m trying to make is that as a coach you simply cannot ‘guarantee’ playing time to anybody. You select players to do a job which is to help the team win. You make your choice according to your own criteria, but you must stick with what you see as right. It would be a very big mistake I feel if the coach were to decide to play somebody because he wanted to keep that player happy.

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      I possibly agree with everything except the part that includes the name Alexis Sanchez. Alexis has great potential,i don’t deny that. But this is against Madrid. We are expected to take this game as seriously as possible. Alexis has not been in best form lately. Good mood or no good mood,,,, by choosing Alexis ahead of Villa alone is contradicting against this part that you metioned above –> “You select players to do a job which is to help the team win. You make your choice according to your own criteria, but you must stick with what you see as right. It would be a very big mistake I feel if the coach were to decide to play somebody because he wanted to keep that player happy.”

  12. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    How is choosing a striker who is having such a barren spell infront of goal ahead of David Villa against a team like REAL MADRID have anything to do with a ‘good decision’ that will possibly help the team. Nic, you also pointed out David Villa’s mistake in the previous games.. Here’s one thing that i can point out as well. Iniesta, Messi and Sanchez aren’t so good at defending as well. Sanchez is hard working, but i have seen him lose the ball in dangerous positions for Barcelona more than David Villa has done his entire game. Iniesta is good at reading the game, playmaking, passing, dictating play, dribbling,,,,but is his defending superior to David Villa?? Is Messi’s defending superior to Villa?? Heck Messi hardly tracks back these days.

    The boys played very well indeed,,,but like it or not,,,most goal scoring chances and targets were catered for Messi last night. When Messi dropped deep, Fabregas tried to fill the void (hardly a huge threat upfront) Iniesta is better at making than finishing. Pedro has the workrate, but i don’t think the Madrid defence would be so fearful of his goal scoring capabilities. We became predictable and blunt upfront. Madrid’s make shift defence hardly worried about anyone else but Messi. We failed to shake them! We can all make excuses for alot of things ,,,but it doesn’t run away from the fact that David Villa’s inclusion would have taken one or defenders out of the equation of marking Leo Messi. David Villa was the answer to our lack of goals last night.

    For the returning leg,,,i can only wish for the best for our team. I pray and hope, we will have a fantastic campaign. We need a second goal machine upfront. We have it,,,and i hope we can use it…for atleast this second half of the season as promised!!

  13. layibiyi says:

    whew! it could have easily been the 3-3 you predicted… We need to take our chances to kill the game off. Pedro’s miss was the most glaring. That kind of chance is exactly the type pedro used to score in these games.

    Villa, despite is not an issue here in my opinion. I am only worried about this barca team when we are not creating chances.

    Good game from varane too

    look at this stats:
    Madrid 19 – 5 Barca
    Yellow Card
    Madrid 3 – 3 Barca

    Is there some sort of rule in referee’s handbooks that barca opponents are allowed to fould multiple times before getting a yellow card. The things we put up with just for being this good. I see madrid players taking off on their trademark counters and we cant do professional fouls because it would be automatic yellows for us. Meanwhile, messi and iniesta are held down at the slightest hint they are about to accelerate. Gets irritating after a while.

  14. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Copa del Rey semi-final second leg) | barçacentral

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