Real Madrid suffered a 99th defeat to Barcelona in their history in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final as they were beaten 1-0 by Xavi’s side at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Thursday night.
An unfortunate own goal from a Franck Kessié move saw Nacho become only the third player to score an own goal for Real Madrid in the fixture this century, joining Iván Helguera and Raphael Varane in a rather unwanted club.
Here are three stats that help us to understand what went wrong for Real Madrid in the first leg.
0: Shots on target for Real Madrid, a first at the Bernabéu since the stat has been collected
Stats for shots on target have been collected reliably for 15 years, across 338 Real Madrid matches at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. This was the first time ever that Los Blancos failed to register a shot on target on home turf.
Real Madrid registered 13 shots in total, with six off target and seven blocked. On the other side, Barcelona had four shots, with two on target, one off target and one blocked. Given that Real Madrid had 65% of possession, it’s clear to see who made it count.
Barcelona’s defensive performance was a strong one, but Real Madrid failed to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves to them. Chances were generated from deep, with Fede Valverde dropping deep on the right and Toni Kroos in a deep-lying playmaker role leading the chance creation charts.
The lack of a focal point in attack and an incredibly disappointing display from Karim Benzema, who had just one shot which was blocked, meant that Real Madrid had little to aim for in the final third. As such, a clean sheet was enough for a fortunate goal to settle the result on the night for Barcelona.
5: Vinícius take-ons against Ronald Araújo, 9.83 fewer than his average over the last 6 games
This battle has become a regular one in Clásico fixtures over the past year or so, and it’s clear to see why Xavi changes up his backline just to make it happen. The Barcelona coach moved Ronald Araújo to the right, swapping with Jules Koundé who moved into a central role alongside Marcos Alonso with youngster Alejandro Baldé on the left.
Right from the off it was clear that this would be an intense battle. Over the last six games, Vinícius Júnior has averaged 14.83 take-ons per 90, with a total of 89, but in this 90 minutes he attempted just five. He looked almost intimidated by Araújo, instead looking to take an easy route of an early cross into no man’s land.
Araújo’s strength and physicality was too much for Vini to beat him. He committed two fouls and had a number of other body checks which were deemed to be within the rules, but Vini simply steered clear for the most part.
Later on in the tie, particularly after the introduction of Rodrygo Goes, we saw Vini look to move more centrally and some spaces did open up for him. He was avoiding Araújo, who followed him at times, but by that point his tired legs could not make the same impact. A frustrating night all round.
16: Consecutive Clásicos where the team to score first has not been beaten
For six years, neither team has lost a Clásico after scoring the first goal in the match. That was the case again here in Chamartín as the fortunate deflection for Barcelona gave them a lead which they clung onto until the final whistle to give them a first-leg lead to take back to Camp Nou ahead of the second leg in April.
You’d have to go back to April 23rd, 2017, when Lionel Messi’s late winner secured a comeback win for Barcelona at the Bernabéu after Casemiro had scored the opening goal for Real Madrid.Since then, the team to score first has won 14 out of 16 Clásicos, with two draws.
That is clearly a huge mental factor in this battle, and could be pivotal come the second leg. Already they have the lead on aggregate, and that in itself could prove a challenge for Real Madrid to overcome, even with their remarkable record of mounting comeback wins in cup competitions.
Intriguingly, this was only the fourth 1-0 win in a Clásico this century, with the most recent ironically also coming on March 2nd in 2019 as Ivan Rakitić scored for Barcelona at the Bernabéu. Clean sheets are not always easy to come by, but Clásicos tend to go to the team who score first.