Barcelona were unable to get their first ‘big win’ under Xavi Hernandez, as they fell to a 2-3 loss at the hands of arch-rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish SuperCopa.
The Blaugrana fell behind in the 25th minute, when Real winger Vinicius Jr finished off a quick counter-attack to make it 1-0. Barca raised their intensity after that and got a rather fortunate equalizer in the 41st-minute, when a botched clearance hit Luuk de Jong before sneaking into the goal.
Barca were unable to maintain that tempo and fell back again in the 72nd minute, when Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s save fell straight for Karim Benzema to tap-in from close range and make it 1-2. Barca, however, were not going out without a fight and super-sub Ansu Fati scored a brilliant header in the 83rd minute to bring things level to 2-2!
In the end, neither teams were able to score another goal before 90 minutes, forcing extra time. Barca fell victim to Real’s counter-attacking threat again in extra-time, conceding another goal when Fede Valverde finished off a quick counter-attack to make it 2-3 in the 98th minute.
Barca threw in the kitchen sink to try and get another equalizer, but just weren’t able to do it before 120 minutes. Xavi Hernandez’s side put up a stronger fight than many predicted them to, but came up just short in the end – ending dreams of winning the first title under the new boss.
Here are Barcelona El Clasico player ratings.
Barcelona Player Ratings vs Real Madrid
Xavi Hernandez (6.5) –
Managing his first El Clasico, Xavi was under pressure to pull off something spectacular to make this Barca side win. He came up short in the end, but installed enough fighting spirit in the squad to prove that he’s probably the right man for the job. Encouraged his side to keep going at Madrid and focus on attacking soccer rather than just keeping possession.
His subs were decent as Fati scored the second goal to force extra-time. In the end, his side lacked the quality or experience to see out a win in extra-time. But the fact that he kept his side in the game until the final whistle proves Xavi has improved this squad’s character and needs quality additions to get them above Madrid again.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (5.5) –
Ter Stegen couldn’t do much for the opener but made a few great saves before seeing one save rebound straight to Benzema for his strike in the 72nd minute. Made some nice saves all game long to keep his side in the game until the very end.
Dani Alves (6.0) –
The 38-year-old makes his first El Clasico appearance in 6 years! He didn’t let his age show, dealing relatively decently with the speedy Vinicius and being defensively quite disciplined. Couldn’t really make the impact his side would want him to while going forward.
Gerard Pique (6.0) –
Pique has the daunting task of keeping Benzema quiet in this one. Probably the most composed Barca defender, winning 7 key duels to stop some Madrid attacks. Moved the ball forward well too, but wasn’t able to keep a leash on Benzema – who eventually won the game for Madrid.
Ronald Araujo (4.0) –
Araujo looked shaky against Vinicius from the get-go and ended up playing him onside for his goal, as well as failing to stop him from scoring from close range. Couldn’t react quickly enough to stop Benzema’s strike to go past him either. Unable to deny Valverde’s strike from close range either. Worked hard to win some key challenges, but his inexperienced errors eventually cost Barca.
Jordi Alba (6.5) –
The Spaniard was an energetic figure going up and down all game long, troubling the Madrid defenders with his vigor. Picked out a great cross for Fati’s goal. Created 4 chances with his brilliant crosses and also worked hard on his defensive contribution, coming up with some clutch work to spoil some of Madrid’s attacks.
Sergio Busquets (6.0) –
The experienced midfielder was too callous leading to the opener, allowing Benzema to steal the ball off him and ensue the swift-break for Vinicius to score. Apart from that error, Busquets was really solid all through the game, making 100+ passes, 3 tackles and 5 interceptions to ruffle the Madrid players.
Frenkie de Jong (5.5) –
De Jong is playing a more advanced role to help his attackers and caused quite a nuisance to help create Luuk’s equalizer. But apart from that, he was quite inefficient and taken off at half-time.
Gavi (6.5) –
The young midfielder is buzzing in midfield, winning back possession in key areas many times. Gavi buzzed around the middle, creating some nice chances, winning 6 key duels and getting the ball forward really nicely for his side.
Ferran Torres (4.0) –
The ex-Man City man makes his debut for Barca in this big game. Booked 23 minutes into it for a tactical foul. Scuffs a decent chance wide in the 40th. Looked visibly unfit and taken off at half-time after a disappointing debut.
Ousmane Dembele (8.0) –
Dembele’s causing some trouble with his movement down the left flank. Sets up a big chance for Luuk with a great cross in the 29th. Goes for the spectacular after cutting inwards in the 34th, but hits a shot over the bar. Helped set up the equalizer with an inviting cross in the 41st.
Starts the second half brightly, hitting multiple shots on goal that went just past the target. Dembele was definitely Barca’s brightest attacker, despite not getting among the goals. He troubled all game long with his movement, winning 16 duels, creating 5 chances and taking repeated shots to terrorize the Madrid defenders. Unlucky not to have a goal/assist after his heroics today.
Luuk de Jong (7.0) –
With ever-lasting pressure on him, De Jong needs a big performance here. Got a prominent scoring opportunity in the 29th, but could only hit his header straight at the goalkeeper. And then struck another weak header at the goalkeeper two minutes later.
His persistence pays off as Eder Militao’s poor clearance hit him before creeping into the goal. Made some nice runs into the box and got an El Clasico goal against all odds.
Pedri (6.0) –
Nearly makes instant impact 3 minutes after coming on, hitting a powerful shot just wide in the 48th. Helped his side dominate possession towards the end.
Abde Ezzalzouli (5.5) –
The young winger added more energy to his side after coming on. Hit a free header over the bar in the 93rd. Hits a nicely taken effort just wide in the 109th. Surprisingly subbed after that.
Ansu Fati (7.0) –
The heir to Leo Messi’s no.10 excels after coming on as a substitute, scoring a superb header from close range to make it 2-2! Tried a spectacular overhead kick deep into extra-time to try making it 3-3 but saw it go wide.
Nico Gonzalez (N/R) –
Helped add a bit more energy to his side as a makeshift right-back.
Memphis Depay (N/R) –
The star attacker was unable to make the impact Xavi wanted him to, not getting any prominent shots on goal.
Ferran Jutgla (N/R) –
Came on towards the end of extra-time but unable to influence any big chances.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Dembele was Barca’s biggest threat today with his impressive movement and created a lot of chances from both the wings. Could’ve had a number of assists if his teammates were more clinical. But have to give the MOTM to Benzema, who actually did have a goal & assist to help Madrid get the win.