With four major first-team players missing, Xavi’s Barcelona went to the Santiago Bernabéu with an unusually conservative approach, which ultimately paid dividends as a superb defensive effort saw Barcelona hang on to a narrow victory in the first leg of the El Clásico Copa del Rey semi-final.
Thibaut Courtois: 7 – The Belgian initially saved Kessié’s shot but was unlucky to have it deflect in off Militão. Made another crucial save in the second half.
Dani Carvajal: 5 – Was pretty much Real Madrid’s only consistent outlet on the right flank, but failed to complete a single successful cross against a stubborn Barcelona defence.
Éder Militão: 4 – Unlucky to score an own goal as the ball deflected in off him after Courtois’ save.
Antonio Rüdiger: 6 – Used his pace effectively on multiple occasions to recover possession, particularly winning the battle physically against Ferran Torres. Played Kessié onside in the build-up to the first goal.
Nacho: 4 – With Madrid mostly on the offensive, it was a subpar display that stagnated proceedings on the left.
Toni Kroos: 5
Eduardo Camavinga: 5 – Generally very good on the ball in quick link-up and progression, but made the costly error of giving away possession in a dangerous area leading to the goal.
Luka Modrić: 5
Fede Valverde: 5
Karim Benzema: 4 – Helped in his typical way in build-up but his 18-yard box presence was negated completely by a stout Barça defense.
Vinícius Jr.: 4 – Yet another Clásico where the Brazilian has been shut down by Ronald Araújo at right-back. Persistent, and put in a couple of good crosses with his right foot, but generally unsuccessful whenever one-on-one against his Uruguayan marker.
Rodrygo: 5 – Brought in place of Nacho to bring some more bite into Real Madrid’s final third play, but bar one late long-range effort, was kept subdued.
Álvaro Rodríguez: n/a – Made his aerial presence felt even in just ten minutes on the pitch. Perhaps could’ve been brought on earlier to put more threat against a resolute back four.
Aurélien Tchouaméni: 5
Marc-André ter Stegen: 7 – Helped by a superb defensive performance in front of him, but was alert to every single aerial delivery into the box.
Ronald Araújo: 8 – Gave Vinícius no room to operate, doing his one-off task at right-back to perfection.
Jules Koundé: 8 – 11 clearances, won both his aerial duels and was brilliant in possession, in a fantastic performance.
Marcos Alonso: 7 – Complemented Koundé expertly, keeping the Madrid offense at bay and ensuring that Xavi’s conservative approach comes to fruition.
Álex Balde: 7
Sergio Busquets: 7 – Besides being excellent on the ball, Busquets put in a very solid defensive performance as well.
Frenkie de Jong: 8 – Superb in every facet of the game. Three interceptions, three tackles and a block to aid Barça’s defensive set-up, but was equally brilliant whenever driving forward with the ball. A complete performance.
Franck Kessié: 7 – Got into the right position to take advantage and force the only goal of the game.
Ferran Torres: 5 – Didn’t get the better of Rüdiger in duels, but played the crucial pass to Kessié in the build-up to the goal.
Gavi: 5 – Was his usual feisty self, getting into the thick of things, and was perhaps lucky to only come away with just a caution.
Ansu Fati: 5
Sergi Roberto: n/a
GSFN | Roddur Mookherjee