Real Madrid 3-1 Atlético Madrid (Rodrygo Goes, Benzema & Vinícius Júnior). A huge win at home. Here is my reaction the the clash. On the way: Player ratings, post game words and a post game podcast.
Madrid derbies are always a tense, significant occasion - and the opportunity to knock out your closest rivals would be relished by both sides. The winner would progress to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, a trophy that Real Madrid have not a decent spell in for some time now. The starting eleven was predictably strong, with Nacho Fernández continuing to cover at right-back. Fede Valverde returned to the wings, with Eduardo Camavinga getting another start in midfield. Karim Benzema captained the side again.
Real Madrid started the game pretty comfortably, looking fine on the ball without creating much to show for the possession. Atlético were fiery and looked to steal the ball at any opportunity and pin the home defence. Other than a half chance that fell to Vinícius Júnior Jan Oblak didn’t have much to do at the other end. The visitors managed to take the lead after a counter attack led to a dangerous ball in falling to Álvaro Morata to tap in. Atlético capitalised on some sleepy ball watching from Vinícius to get the ball into the box for the cross for the goal. The game remained similar despite the goal up until the half time whistle at 1-0.
The second half produced more action from the get-go. Dani Ceballos, the hero of the last round, was brought on immediately. Los Blancos were really pushing to get back into the game in front of the frustrated home crowd - and chances quickly fell to Vinícius and Karim Benzema inside the area. Antoine Griezmann was looking dangerous for the visitors. He fired a free-kick towards the top corner - only for it to be tap over the bar by the Belgian goalkeeper. Then, Axel Witsel of all people almost made it two with a bicycle kick attempt that was close to the post. Real Madrid did find their equaliser through Rodrygo Goes. In the minutes prior he was dropping deep to receive the ball, carrying into into the final third to make things happen. The goal was one of the best I have seen him score, with the youngster again receiving the ball far from goal before toying with the Atlético defence and poking the ball low past Oblak. Rodrygo then had a go from distance, almost scoring what would have been another ridiculous goal. Griezmann could have ruined the party late on but blasted over from a fantastic position. Memphis Depay forced a good save out of Courtois in added time, against the run of play after a strong spell from Real Madrid. 1-1 at full time, with extra time needed to decide things here.
This game really brought back vibes from 2014 when Real Madrid went on to smoke their rivals in extra-time. They finished the 90 minutes looking a lot more energised than their opponents, so home fans would be hoping that this would transfer into extra time. Vinícius Júnior at this point was collecting nutmegs for fun, and could have put his side ahead if his cross was better timed after a run. Stefan Savić was having a torrid time, and (un)luckily for him his misery was ended early when he chopped down Eduardo Camavinga forcing the referee to send him off. Antonio Rüdiger almost found the net a minute later with a powerful header put wide. The man who always steps up was there once again, as Benzema was right at the end of a ball into the box to smash the ball home and make it 2-1. There were a couple of scares from Atlético, but none more so than when Depay really should have made it 2-2 right in front of goal. Castilla player Mario Martín came on to make his debut with five minutes to go. Vinícius Júnior capped off an incredibly individual display by rounding the Atlético and finishing delicately to make it 3-1 and book Real Madrid’s place in the semi-finals. What an exhilarating spectacle... How happy are you with that?