Real Madrid are through to the final of the Copa del Rey after beating Barcelona 4-0 in the second leg of the semi-final. It’s a historic result and their scintillating performance will live long in the memory.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side travelled to Catalonia licking their wounds. They trailed 1-0, having lost the first leg at the Bernabeu, and have all but surrendered their La Liga crown, having fallen 12 points behind Barcelona following a 2-1 defeat at the Camp Nou last month.
But after weathering some early pressure from the hosts, Madrid grew into the match and delivered a statement performance that will put Chelsea – and the other remaining Champions League sides – on high alert.
Vinicius Junior opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, levelling the tie on aggregate, before Karim Benzema ran rampant in the second half with a history-making hat-trick.
“This was a complete performance,” a beaming Carlo Ancelotti told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“We managed to suffer when we had to suffer in the first half, when we struggled to play the ball out, but then the first goal changed the game and we could create many dangerous chances. Even though we’d lost the last couple of Clasicos, we had played well in those games and didn’t lose any confidence.
“Our tactics for this game were exactly the same as the previous two Clasicos. We didn’t change anything, other than some minor changes, such as Rodrygo coming in up front, but it was basically the same except that this time we got the benefit of the fine margins.
“The first goal was so important and it then changed the second half.”
Here are 10 unbelievable stats from Real Madrid’s huge El Clasico statement:
– This was Real Madrid’s biggest win away at Barcelona in 60 years. The legendary Ferenc Puskas scored a hat-trick on that occasion, while club icons Alfredo Di Stefano and Paco Gento also found themselves on the scoresheet – a 5-1 win at the Camp Nou all the way back in January 1963.
– Real Madrid have scored nine goals in five meetings against Barcelona this season. That’s as many goals as Xavi’s side have conceded in 27 La Liga outings.
– Karim Benzema did what Cristiano Ronaldo never could and scored a hat-trick in this fixture. Real Madrid’s No.9 became only the sixth player since the 1980s to bag three goals in El Clasico, and the first European since Gary Lineker in 1987. He was the first Madrid player to score three at the Camp Nou since Puskas in 1963.
• • • •
• • • •
– Real Madrid are well worth their place in the final. They registered 2.71xG (expected goals) to the hosts’ 0.89xG.
– Carlo Ancelotti’s side registered less possession (47.2%), fewer shots (nine to 11) and created fewer chances (seven to 11), but they created higher-quality chances and were much more clinical in the final third. Seven of their nine attempts were on target. Stats via The Athletic.
– This was the first time Madrid have scored four goals in El Clasico since May 2008, when Bernd Schuster’s Blancos beat Barcelona 4-1 at the Bernabeu in one of Frank Rijkaard’s final matches in charge. Salt into the wounds after they gave the newly-crowned La Liga champions a guard of honour prior to kick-off.
– Benzema has scored back-to-back hat-tricks, having scored three goals in the space of seven minutes against Real Valladolid at the weekend.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 5, 2023
– This was Benzema’s 43rd Clasico. In that time, he scored 16 goals and notched 11 assists. Only Lionel Messi, Di Stefano and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more goals than Benzema in the history of El Clasico, and only Messi has more assists.
– The 4-0 victory comes just over a year since Barcelona won 4-0 at the Bernabeu (March 20th, 2022). Quite a turnaround.
– This year’s final will be Madrid’s first in almost a decade. Ancelotti was also at the helm for their last Copa del Rey final back in 2014, when Gareth Bale scored one of the most iconic goals in Madrid’s recent history.