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Three talking points from Barcelona 0-4 Real Madrid | Copa del Rey



Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona crumbled at their own fortress to a ruthless Real Madrid performance late on Wednesday evening. The 4-0 result in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg speaks volumes about the game itself, but the scoreline could have well been 7-0 on the night.

The visitors were defensively unshaken, dominant as ever in the middle of the park and sharp in the final third. Everything about Real Madrid’s performance on the night was special, and the manner in which the game unfolded gave it a silver lining.

After the semi-final played in the spirit of a finale last night, the Merengues are pitted against Osasuna in a direct face-off for the title. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid vs Barcelona.

1. The comeback kings

There is an uncanny sense of confidence every time Real Madrid walk into a game chasing a lead. The men in white have a strange affinity to playing under pressure, for the manner in which they operate when pushed against the wall is incomparable with their form in routine league games.

It was this very characteristic of Real Madrid which guided them to the UEFA Champions League title last year. The men in white found themselves in challenging circumstances in every round, yet found a way to turn the tables around at every stage.

The theme continued this season in the European competition again at Anfield versus Liverpool. And Yesterday’s game once again reaffirmed Los Blancos’ title as the comeback kings under similar circumstances.

Last month, Carlo Ancelotti’s men fell to Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu in a narrow 1-0 result in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final. Heading to Camp Nou, they needed to fight in front of a Catalan crowd and score at least two goals. Given Barcelona’s defensive record this season, it was far from a simple task.

Yet, the way the Merengues orchestrated the game and played it to their advantage is beyond impressive. In no instant during the game was there tension on the Real Madrid players’ faces. They waited patiently for a chance to pounce on Barcelona while defending deep enough to prevent conceding a second.

When Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema found themselves with a half-chance towards the end of the first half, they took it with both hands. As the pressure built on Barça, they overstretched in attack and left spaces behind for the visitors’ attack to capitalise. The rest is history.

The difference makers (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Ancelotti has shaped the squad mentality into something special and capable of facing even the tallest of adversities. The lack of fear and the sheer composure of the team is truly remarkable.

2. Hat-trick hero

Benzema joined an elite list of Real Madrid players to have scored a hat-trick at Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday night with a heroic show on the world’s biggest stage.

A lot has been said about the Frenchman’s lack of form this season. His goal tally has not been poor by any means but his inability to put away simple chances that he would have otherwise capitalised on was seen as a concern for the men in white.

Since the restart of club football after the international break, Benzema has scored six goals in just two games. His back-to-back hattricks involved spectacular goals and show that he still very much has it in his boots.

Benzema scored his first goal of the night in the 50th minute after Luka Modric squared him the ball outside the Barcelona box. With a clear sight of goal, the Frenchman struck a powerful shot that slid beyond a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make it 2-0.

His second goal came from the penalty spot after Franck Kessie brought Vinicius Jr down in the area. For a striker of his calibre, converting the opportunity was a stroll in the garden.

It was in the 80th minute that Benzema completed his hattrick against Barcelona. Once again on a quick counter, Vini Jr took down the Barcelona defence and laid the ball for his captain. The Ballon d’Or winner made easy work of it, sending it over Ter Stegen and scoring the team’s fourth.

3. Will it finally come home?

The Copa del Rey is a third-wheel competition after La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. Yet, while Real Madrid have done well in Europe and the Spanish League, their record in the Cup is far from impressive.

Los Blancos last won the competition in 2013-14. In the nine years since then, they have faced shocking eliminations or gone down fighting prematurely for a plethora of reasons.

Real Madrid have only won the competition 19 times in their history. Considering that Barcelona have done so 31 times, there is an imminent need to start making amends on that front.

Ancelotti’s men are now firm favourites to lift the trophy this year and put an end to the recent drought. They face Osasuna in the final next month in a tie that is tricky, but very conquerable.

Will this finally be the year that Los Blancos bring the Copa del Rey home? Was yesterday’s clash the one that decided Carlo Ancelotti’s continuity at Real Madrid? Only time will tell.

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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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