Barcelona Advance to 2019 Copa del Rey Final After El Clasico Win vs Real MadridFebruary 27, 2019
Barcelona booked their spot in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, beating rivals Real Madrid 3-0 in the return leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The first leg had finished 1-1, bringing the aggregate score to 4-1.
Real were the better side in the first half but crumbled after the break, with Luis Suarez netting twice, including once from the penalty spot. Raphael Varane handed Barca an own-goal as well.
Barcelona remain on track to win the tournament for a fifth straight year.
Lack of End Product Shows Vinicius Isn't Ready for Biggest Stage
At just 18 years old, Vinicius Jr. already ranks among Real's most exciting attacking players, but the youngster showed his age in the Clasico on Wednesday.
The Brazilian speedster routinely beat Nelson Semedo out wide, nearly earning his side an early penalty―VAR decided not to award it after clear contact―and creating a whole bunch of chances.
Unfortunately, his lack of finishing touch plagued him throughout the contest. He missed several great looks on goal, skying one particularly bad miss late in the first half.
As noted by sportswriter Robbie Dunne, finishing is a clear issue for a player who is bursting with potential in all other areas:
AS English wondered if the lack of goals will start to weigh on the teenager:
He has scored twice in La Liga so far, a low number for a player who has become a regular starter for Los Blancos in 2019.
The lack of goals isn't a major worry yet―Vinicius Jr. has plenty of time to develop better instincts and finishing ability―but it should make manager Santiago Solari think twice about using him in the biggest matches.
It might be a better idea to turn elsewhere in the UEFA Champions League's final stages, as for all of his obvious qualities, Real can struggle to score goals when the technician is on the pitch.
Clasico Shows Gulf in Class Between Barcelona, Real
While the final score may suggest Barcelona thoroughly outplayed their rivals on Wednesday, Real were the better side for large stretches of the match, and their wastefulness in front of goal opened the door for the Catalans.
Some fans of the Blaugrana had a hard time believing they were up by three goals, based on what they actually saw on the pitch:
Perhaps most surprising was who led the charge for the Catalans. Suarez, a frequent target of criticism in the past weeks for his poor form, was barely involved in the first half yet ended up with two goals to add to his tally.
Per sportswriter Dermot Corrigan, Lionel Messi barely had an impact on the match:
Real got their tactics on point and eliminated Barcelona's biggest threat, and they still were embarrassed on their home turf.
It's no wonder the Blaugrana have won the Copa four years in a row, or that they're on pace for their fourth La Liga title in five years. Los Blancos have a tremendous ability to elevate their level for a handful of contests in Europe, but over the course of a long season, Barcelona's superior consistency and talent almost always seems to win out.
Even when the Catalans are far from their best, they can travel to the capital and manhandle Real. It's a bad look for the European champions, who play second-fiddle in this rivalry right now.
The two teams will rematch at the Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday, March 2.