In the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 1-0 on Thursday at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
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With an own goal from Real Madrid defender Éder Militao early in the first half, Barcelona came out on top in the first of three upcoming matches between the two Spanish powerhouses.
In addition to their Copa semifinal rematch on April 5, the rivals will play each other again in the Spanish league on March 19 in Barcelona.
The game was also the first between the two teams since their rivalry was made known to the public. Barcelona allegedly bribed the vice president of the refereeing committee in the country with millions of euros over the course of several seasons. Madrid supporters hung a banner at the Bernabéu that read, “Clean and white, never tarnished.”
On Wednesday night, in the first leg of the other semifinal, Osasuna beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at home.
In the 26th minute, Barcelona took the lead when the ball ricocheted off Militao following a run into the area by Barcelona midfielder Franck Kessie. Madrid’s Eduardo Camavinga, who plays in the middle of the field, gave the ball away just before they scored. Kessie argued that it should have been called an offside, and the referee agreed.
Karim Benzema appeared to score for Madrid in the 12th minute, but he was actually offside. In the 74th minute, Kessie almost doubled Barcelona’s lead, but his shot from the center of the area was deflected near the goal line by teammate Ansu Fati.
Although Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup against Madrid 3-1 in January, the two teams had previously played in a league match last year, with Madrid winning 3-1 at the Bernabeu.
The last time these two teams met in the Copa was in the 2019 semifinals, and Barcelona came out on top again, this time with a 3-0 win at the Bernabeu in the second leg.
Barcelona’s win on Thursday came despite the absence of three of their top scorers (Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, and Pedri), who have scored a combined 40 goals for the season. Lewandowski has scored 25 of those 40 goals. As a central defender, Andreas Christensen was injured and unavailable to coach Xavi. He started Marcos Alonso in place of Christensen and improvised with Ronald Araujo at right back.
Sergio Busquets, captain of Barcelona, played in his 46th “clasico” on Saturday, surpassing Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos, both of whom had previously held the record.
For the first time since October, Barcelona lost a game without scoring in the Spanish league. This loss came in a 1-0 defeat at Almera. Earlier, Manchester United had knocked them out of the Europa League playoffs. They have a seven-point league lead over Madrid at the moment.
David Alaba, Madrid’s central defender, and Ferland Mendy, the team’s left back, both went down with injuries. Despite his return from injury, Rodrygo was given a spot on the bench in favor of Vincius Junior and Benzema.
When compared to Athletic, Barcelona has eight more Copa titles (31 vs. 25). Next with 19, but none since 2014, is Madrid.
Seville, Spain is the site of the final match on May 6.