Barcelona edged out Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals at the Santiago Bernabeu last night.
Eder Militao’s own goal in the first half made the difference as Los Blancos failed to get the better of an injury-hit Barca side.
Here are the major takeaways from the latest El Clasico.
A substandard performance from Real Madrid
Madrid were touted as the favourites given their impressive recent run – unbeaten in their last six games – coupled with Barcelona’s dip in form and their injury crisis.
The visitors were without the services of four star players Pedri, Ousmane Dembele and Robert Lewandowski and Andreas Christensen.
In what could have been a cakewalk, Los Blancos still ended up short against Barca, who hardly did anything special in the game.
Madrid were lackadaisical throughout the game, registering zero shorts on target despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession.
It wasn’t the kind of performance Los Blancos faithful wouldn’t have expected, especially after seeing them tear Liverpool apart in the Champions League last week.
Credit must be given to Barca for their efforts, but Madrid should have upped the ante.
Ronald Araujo shows again he is a defensive colossus of Barca
We have been accustomed to Ronald Araujo’s impressive performances this season, and he didn’t fail to rise to the occasion last night.
The Uruguayan moved to the right-back position – with Jules Kounde operating as a centre-back – mainly to deal with Vinicius Junior.
Xavi’s tactic proved worthwhile, as Araujo was too good for Vinicius.
The Brazilian winger has been a nightmare for many of the defenders this season but not for Araujo, who kept him at bay.
The Uruguayan got under the skin of Vinicius with gruesome yet precise tackles.
Araujo is one of the best centre-backs in the world at the moment, and he will be hoping to produce a similar performance in the second leg.
Xavi has Ancelotti’s number
After a period of Madrid dominance in Clasico, Xavi’s arrival changed things as he demolished Carlo Ancelotti’s men at Bernabeu last season in his first-ever derby as the manager of Blaugrana.
He has continued in the same vein since then, beating them at the Spanish Super Cup finals last month and now another victory at Bernabeu.
Barca are also well positioned to grab the La Liga title from their arch-rivals as they have established a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
The next Clasico will be a league encounter next month at Camp Nou, not long before Barca welcome Madrid for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.
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