FC Barcelona overcame the issue of missing four key players to defeat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, as a conservative approach taken by Xavi paid off at the Bernabéu.
1 | Vinícius vs Araújo: A mental block?
No defender in the world seems to have Vinícius on lock quite like Ronald Araújo. Time and time again, the Brazilian seems to be unable to win the one-on-one face-off against the Uruguayan. Last night, with Barcelona forced to defend deeper, Vinícius was cramped for room by Araújo, and could mostly muster up a number of failed crosses on his weaker foot. The Brazilian even stopped trying to take on his marker at one point, which negated a massive threat. One could wonder whether Araújo holds a psychological edge over Viní now, and the implications this could have in future meetings.
2 | Time to move on from Kroos and Modrić?
For all their quality on the ball, perhaps Real Madrid’s iconic midfield duo now lack the legs to impact intense games together. With Barcelona looking to hit on the break, the two struggled in defensive transitions. The in-form Dani Ceballos could feel hard done by to not feature at all last night and freshen up the midfield.
3 | What to expect from the second leg?
Despite winning, Xavi seemed upset after the game at having failed to control proceedings more. With Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé likely back for the second-leg, we can foresee a more open approach from Barça at the Camp Nou. While that gives the Blaugrana more potential to inflict a heavier defeat on Madrid like in the Supercopa, it could also play into Los Blancos’ hands by allowing them more space in offense.
GSFN | Roddur Mookherjee