Real Madrid vs Barcelona FINAL Final Football Score 03 March 2023
The La Liga title race temporarily takes a backseat for El Clasico rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona, who lock horns in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at the Bernabeu on Thursday evening. Los Blancos defeated city rivals Atletico Madrid 3-1 in the last eight to progress this far, while Xavi’s side needed just the one goal to eliminate Real Sociedad.With an astounding quadruple still a distinct possibility heading into the spring months, Real Madrid’s trophy cabinet is itching to welcome another Copa del Rey crown, which rather incredibly has not been won by Los Blancos since the 2013-14 campaign.Cacereno and Villarreal both fell to the superiority of Real Madrid before a stern test versus Atletico awaited in the quarter-finals, where Alvaro Morata would return to haunt his old club, but Rodrygo forced extra time before Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior saved Los Blancos’ bacon.
Another Madrid derby with Los Rojiblancos in La Liga would not be a smooth affair for Carlo Ancelotti’s men either, as breakout teenage star Alvaro Rodriguez endeared himself to the Bernabeu faithful with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw, which puts Los Blancos seven points behind Barcelona in the La Liga standings. Barcelona’s shock defeat to Almeria means that there is still a glimmer of hope for Real Madrid, whose five-game winning run in all tournaments was brought to an end on Saturday evening, and a first Copa del Rey semi-final since the 2018-19 campaign now lies in wait. That year, Real drew the first leg of their semi-final clash with Barcelona 1-1 before bowing out with a 3-0 defeat at the Bernabeu, but with form and fitness concerns working against them, the latest instalment of El Clasico could hardly have come at a worse time for La Blaugrana.
With one avenue to success in the Europa League now closed off courtesy of Manchester United, Barcelona’s need for glory in the Spanish top flight has become ever more dire, so it was no surprise to see Xavi overcome with fury following Sunday’s upset to Almeria. Ironically, a Luis Suarez was one of the architects behind Barcelona’s downfall – not La Blaugrana’s former Uruguayan luminary, though – as the Colombia international set up El Bilal Toure for the game’s only goal in the 24th minute of the match, preventing Xavi’s side from going 10 points clear at the top. An unassailable seven-point chasm is nonetheless a healthy advantage for the success-starved Catalans, but suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time since April is not what the doctor ordered before El Clasico, and neither is an injury to star striker Robert Lewandowski.
One-nil was also the scoreline when Barcelona defeated 10-man Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarters – Ousmane Dembele’s effort proved decisive that day – and Xavi’s side have also avoided giant killings against Intercity and Ceuta to progress to the semi-finals for the 11th time in 13 seasons. Thursday’s first leg will mark the 252nd competitive Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, the latter of whom won 3-1 in January’s Supercopa de Espana final, but Los Blancos prevailed by the same scoreline at the Bernabeu back in October, and the odds are stacked heavily in their favour to glean a first-leg advantage here.During their quarter-final win over Atletico in January, Real Madrid lost Ferland Mendy to a thigh injury which is yet to heal, and he has since been joined in the treatment room by Rodrygo and David Alaba, who were casualties of their Champions League last-16 first leg win over Liverpool.
Rodrygo has made a rapid return to training and could make himself available, but Alaba is sure to miss out, while Luka Modric will serve a suspension against Real Betis this weekend but is fine to line up here. Now fully recovered from a bout of flu, Aurelien Tchouameni could freshen up the Blancos midfield alongside Modric – who was only a substitute against Atletico at the weekend – which could push Federico Valverde further forward in place of Marco Asensio. As mentioned, Barcelona have suffered an untimely injury blow with Lewandowski, who sustained a hamstring injury during the weekend’s defeat to Almeria. The Catalans have not placed a timeframe on his recovery, but he is sure to watch this one from the sidelines.
Ousmane Dembele and Pedri are also out of contention with their own thigh problems, but on a brighter note, Xavi is hopeful that Ansu Fati’s bruised knee will heal in time for the first leg. The 20-year-old is one option to deputise for Lewandowski through the middle, but Ferran Torres should get the nod as the number nine, allowing Raphinha to return out wide after his peculiar post-Manchester United injury – damaging his foot by kicking a fridge out of anger following his substitution.The mood can change quickly at Barca these days, and there’s a remarkably different outlook going into Thursday’s Clasico compared to last month’s Supercopa final against Madrid, which they won 3-1.
Xavi slammed Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Almeria, just their second in LaLiga this season, as Barcelona’s “worst performance of the campaign” and it’s hard to argue with him. With Pedri and Ousmane Dembele missing through injury, Barca lacked creativity, resorting to crosses most of the time and they ended the game with just one shot on target.That loss came after Europa League elimination at the hands of Manchester United and back-to-back defeats have raised a few questions around Camp Nou. Do they have the squad depth to get over the line? Was the money spent at the start of the season invested wisely? On top of that, they remain without the influential duo of Pedri and Dembele and have now also lost star striker Robert Lewandowski to injury.
In general, though, Barca have been remarkably consistent on the domestic front and are much improved defensively. They still have a seven-point lead at the top of LaLiga and a cup final to play for, but recent performances have been poor enough to generate doubts heading into a tie against a Madrid side that’s known for being so good over two legs.
Xavi describes himself as someone who loves a challenge. Well, there are few bigger for Barca than a three-game series against Madrid which could dictate whether this, his first full season in charge of the Blaugrana, is deemed a success or not.Madrid are often much better at riding with the punches than Barcelona and go into Thursday’s meeting in relatively good shape following a patchy spell in the league in January. Dropped points against Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Mallorca saw them slip eight points behind Barca after the World Cup, and the gap is still at seven points despite only managing a draw against Atletico Madrid at the weekend. Barca’s defeat to Almeria feels like a lifeline for Carlo Ancelotti’s side ahead of the league Clasico later this month.
It is the Champions League, as ever, though, that has boosted Madrid’s morale in recent weeks, with their whopping 5-2 win at Anfield against Liverpool a reminder of how dangerous they can be. Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema were both in fine form in that game and pose a serious threat to Barca’s improving backline. David Alaba and Ferland Mendy are both injured, which should mean Nacho Fernandez at left-back, while forward Rodrygo Goes is a doubt, but Madrid’s injury problems have eased up elsewhere.
They have the luxury of being able to field three players named in the FIFPro XI this week (Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric and Benzema) and have great depth in midfield. However, Ancelotti will be taking nothing for granted. January’s Supercopa defeat is still in the memory, and it’s been less than a year since Barca won 4-0 at the Bernabeu in LaLiga.