Barcelona and Real Madrid drew 1-1 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou, with Lucas Vazquez and Malcom both getting on the scoresheet in a game of two halves.
Lucas gave Madrid the lead after just six minutes. Vinicius Junior came in from the left wing and floated a ball for Karim Benzema after he had pulled out to the right, and the Frenchman took a touch before picking out Lucas, who guided the ball into the far corner with his left foot from just a couple of yards out.
It was not until the 58th minute that Malcom was able to equalise for the Blaugrana, who were the better side in the second half. Clement Lenglet played a long ball into the left channel for Jordi Alba to chase, yet Keylor Navas got there first and the ball found the feet of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan’s left-footed shot hit the post and the ball ricocheted across the box as it landed at the feet of Malcom, whose shot from the right-hand side of the box crept just inside the post, evading the Madrid defenders that had made their way back onto the line. Sergio Ramos put his hands in the air, thinking it was going wide.
Going into the match, the noteworthy news from the respective line-ups was that Lionel Messi was only fit enough for the bench, yet the Argentine entered the fray in the 62nd minute as he replaced Philippe Coutinho. Elsewhere in the Barcelona eleven, Arthur was selected over Arturo Vidal, while Marc-Andre ter Stegen played in the Copa del Rey for the first time since January 2017 due to Jasper Cillessen’s injury. Malcom started instead of Messi and the 21-year-old had an excellent game, capping it off with a goal.
For Madrid, their line-up saw Keylor Navas replace Thibaut Courtois as this is ‘his’ competition. The same logic applies for Marcelo, who started at left-back instead of Sergio Reguilon. In midfield, Marcos Llorente was given the nod ahead of Casemiro, while Vinicius Junior kept his place ahead of Gareth Bale.
The first half saw Madrid dominate as they not only took an early lead but had chances on a regular basis. They would often have four or five players pushing forward as soon as they won the ball back, with the attacking trio of Lucas, Karim Benzema and Vinicius all implementing a high press. Despite this, they could not find that illusive second goal, instead wasting many opportunities that came their way. Madrid could have made it 2-0 in the first half if Vinicius had looked up, yet the 18-year-old failed to see Benzema wide open to his left as his shot was blocked.
The bright spark for Barcelona in the first half was definitely Malcom as he had a wonderful understanding with Nelson Semedo down the right. They were often targeting Marcelo at left-back, who looked low on confidence and a yard off the pace. While Malcom had an impressive impact on the right wing, the same cannot be said for Philippe Coutinho as the former Liverpool star was invisible for much of the first half. Los Cules did have a chance to equalise late in the half as Malcom’s inswinging free-kick found Ivan Rakitic open in the box, but his header cannoned back off the bar.
The second half saw Barcelona equalise through Malcom as they dominated the ball and took advantage of Madrid dropping deeper and deeper. Once Coutinho made way for Messi, the pace of Barcelona’s play certainly increased and they were carving Madrid open, though they failed to convert those chances into goals.
Ten minutes from the end, Gareth Bale – a substitute for Vinicius – had the chance to win the game. Ter Stegen had come roughly 10 yards outside of his area in an attempt to clear the ball, but it went horribly wrong and Karim Benzema took possession. The Frenchman picked out Bale and he took two touches, failing to see that Ter Stegen had left an open goal, before having his shot blocked by Nelson Semedo as it went for a corner.
The 1-1 scoreline makes things interesting going into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in three weeks’ time.
1.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic (Arturo Vidal, min. 62), Arthur; Malcom (Carles Alena, min. 76), Luis Suarez, Coutinho (Messi, min. 62).
1.- Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Marcos Llorente (Casemiro, min. 62), Modric, Kroos; Lucas Vazquez (Asensio, min. 84), Benzema, Vinicius Junior (Bale, min. 62).
Goals: 1-0, min. 6: Lucas Vazquez; 1-1, min. 58: Malcom.
Referee: Mateu Lahoz.
Yellow cards: Sergio Ramos (Min. 10), Semedo (Min. 43), Suarez (Min. 54), Marcelo (Min. 56), Jordi Alba (Min. 58), Arturo Vidal (min. 88).
Red cards: None.
Stadium: Camp Nou.