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Barcelona Beat Real Madrid At Their Own Game

Photo: David Ramos (Getty)

Over the past handful of years, Real Madrid have demonstrated what can only be described as a superpower for winning ugly. Specifically in knockout competitions, and specifically in the Champions League, time after time Madrid have labored for the greater part of 90 minutes against an opponent playing the game of their lives, only for them to look up after the final whistle and see themselves ahead on the scoreboard. Barcelona, on the other hand, tend to only win when they are the best. But in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal between these two great rivals, the roles were reversed. Today, Real Madrid kicked the shit out of Barcelona for 90 minutes and somehow still got crushed by a score of 3-0.

It’s tough to explain what happened in this Clásico, because it made absolutely no sense. Lionel Messi had maybe his quietest game of the season. His only involvement in any of his team’s three goals was his decision to let Luis Suárez take the penalty that killed off the tie for good. All there is to say about the match was that Barça were absolutely terrible almost to a man, save the ridiculously great keeper Marc-André ter Stegen; looked lost both in possession and in defense; created practically nothing (the team took just four shots, only two of which were on target); let a Madrid team run riot with 14 shots; and had no clue what to do with the still-ascendant Vinícius, who probably could’ve won the match by himself had he been just a tad more composed and fortunate with the many chances he created for himself and his teammates. And yet, when the final whistle blew, Barcelona was the team that will get to meet either Valencia or Real Betis in the Copa del Rey final.

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Here are the highlights of the goals, which, again, are not in any way indicative of the actual flow of the game:

Considering Real Madrid already pulled their trademark Houdini act a couple weeks ago against Ajax in the Champions League—the competition they actually care about—having someone do to them what they so often do to others probably doesn’t hurt as much as it might otherwise. Still, it must feel pretty shitty to dominate so thoroughly, against their biggest rivals to boot, and have nothing to show for it. Ha!

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