Real Madrid destroyed Barcelona 4-0 on Wednesday at Spotify Camp Nou to advance to the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna in May. Karim Benzema scored his second straight hat-trick in the victory.
Madrid will play in their first domestic cup final since 2014 thanks to three goals from Benzema, who also scored three goals against Real Valladolid at the weekend. The three goals quieted the home audience of over 94,000 and secured Madrid’s victory.
Following Barcelona’s close 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa quarterfinal last month, Vinicius Jr. scored to equalise the match on aggregate just before halftime.
1. Madrid breaks its Clasico losing streak to advance to the championship
Despite being without four of their important players—Andreas Christensen, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, and Ousmane Dembele—due to illness, Barcelona had won the previous three encounters between the two teams and had a strong start to the game. Although they moved the ball quickly, they lacked power in the closing third of a game that occasionally looked like it might end in a tumble. In a heated first half, Gavi and Vinicius nearly exchanged punches.
At left-back, Alejandro Balde was a danger, and it was his pass that came close to setting up the first goal. Thibaut Courtois, however, turned away Robert Lewandowski’s accurate effort, and Madrid went ahead after 30 seconds. Jules Kounde made every attempt to stop Vinicius’ strike from crossing the goal line after he received the ball from Benzema.
Despite Madrid’s advantage on the night, the score was even on the whole. A boisterous home audience, which had previously shouted Lionel Messi’s name amid speculation about a potential comeback, attempted to motivate their side after the interval. However, as Barca disintegrated, it had little impact. A tackle on Vinicius by Franck Kessie allowed Karim Benzema to score from the spot and break the stalemate after Luka Modric had set him up for his second goal.
The third goal by Benzema came in the dying minutes as Barca frantically sought something. Therefore, Madrid will face Osasuna in the championship game in Seville in May. Since they haven’t won this tournament in nine years, they will be heavy favourites going into that contest.
- Benzema fuels the possibility of a Cup double.
Los Blancos trail Real Madrid in LaLiga by 12 points as a result of Real Madrid’s loss to Barcelona just before the international break. No one would contest the likelihood of the league championship returning to Camp Nou for the first time since 2019.
However, after it had seemed as though Barca was gaining the upper hand, this victory maintains the relative balance of power between the two Clasico foes.
But more significantly, it puts Madrid on course for a cup double. In addition to the Copa del Rey championship, they are still in the Champions League race. They will welcome Chelsea in the first game of their semifinal matchup the following week in an effort to win the title back.
They can’t be counted out when Benzema is used in this way. It appears that his form is rising at the ideal time because this was his first-ever hat-trick against Barcelona and his second in four days. He currently has 25 goals across all categories, and excellent Vinicius is helping him out. With his goal in this game, the Brazilian joined Mohamed Salah as the only players from the top five divisions in Europe to have at least 20 goals and 10 helpers across all categories this season.
- Will Barcelona’s LaLiga dominance be sufficient?
On Wednesday, Barca occasionally turned against themselves. They gave up just before halftime when they might have done better to concentrate on preserving their advantage from the first match going into the break. They then completely collapsed in the second half, putting on a display reminiscent of some of their most recent humiliations in Europe.
Barcelona does not prioritise the Copa del Rey because LaLiga is regarded as being much more important, but losing to foe Real Madrid, especially at home, will be very painful. Fans of Barcelona won’t even want to consider Madrid finishing the season with another European title, especially if Madrid goes on to win the tournament.
The story of their league triumph is marginally changed by this. While they are on track to win their first local championship in four years, they have now lost in the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Copa del Rey after being eliminated by Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Manchester United, and now Madrid.
Success against Madrid in the Super Cup and LaLiga play indicate progress, but there is still much space for growth and introspection before the following year.
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