Karim ‘The Dream’ causes nightmares at the Nou Camp

Barcelona fought hard at the Santiago Bernabéu in the first leg of this mouthwatering Copa del Rey semifinal – with an own goal from Éder Militão the difference as the Culers managed a 1-0 win on the road. They returned to the Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday evening, looking to hold on to that lead in yet another highly anticipated el Clasico.

FCB: Ter Stegen; Baldé, Alonso, Koundé, Araújo; S. Roberto, Busquets, Kessié; Gavi, Lewandowski, Raphinha

RMA: Courtois; Camavinga, Alaba, Militão, Carvajal; Modrić, Kroos, Valverde; Vinicius Jr, Benzema, Rodrygo

The first chance of the game fell to Barcelona early on, as Ronaldo Araújo did well to switch the play to Alejandro Baldé. The left-back played it in to Gavi inside the box, but the young Spaniard’s low cross to the far post was intercepted well by Dani Carvajal before it could find Sergi Roberto who was waiting to tap it into the back of the net.

Barça felt they should have been awarded a penalty just minutes later, after David Alaba appeared to have handled the ball inside the area – but a quick VAR check confirmed Juan Martínez Munuera’s initial on-field decision, and the hosts’ appeals were promptly dismissed.

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Los Blancos barely had a look in throughout the early stages of the game, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side looked fragile defensively too. Alejandro Baldé looked to exploit Real Madrid’s right-hand side, propelling a great cross into the penalty area. It flew past Militão before meeting the head of Raphinha – but the Brazilian’s header was straight at Thibaut Courtois between the sticks.

Ancelotti’s side could have scored with their first real chance of the game though, as Vinicius broke free on the left, sending a threatening cross into the box towards Karim Benzema – but Marc-Andre Ter Stegen beat the Frenchman to the ball and punched it away convincingly.

The visitors were starting to grow in to the game – but it was still Barcelona that looked most likely to open the scoring ahead of the break. Thibaut Courtois was forced into action as he denied Robert Lewandowski, but the Belgian’s save prompted a counterattack. Vinicius surged through the middle of the field before picking out Karim Benzema to his right. The Frenchman cut the ball back to Vinicius, who drilled a low effort on goal though that was blocked by Jules Koundé – but it rolled over the line, aided in part by Benzema.

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That goal on the stroke of half-time ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid entered the interval level on aggregate, but carrying the momentum ahead of the second-half. Benzema had done well to pick out Vinicius for their goal, continuing a great week for the French striker after a hat-trick on the weekend.

Not happy with just an assist, Karim Benzema got himself on the scoresheet in the 50th minute. Luka Modrić received the ball from Militão on the right touchline before working his way infield – and his perfectly placed pass to Benzema was sent into the bottom-left corner with a remarkable composure by the Frenchman. Los Blancos were ahead!

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Barça were quick to search for an equaliser, with Alejandro Baldé and Raphinha both launching shots from tight angles that put Thibaut Courtois to work. It was Ronald Araújo who came closest though, toe-poking an effort across goal but it bobbled just wide of the far post to deny the Blaugrana a chance to go level.

Since Real Madrid’s opener, Barcelona’s defence had been ropy to say the least – and they conceded a penalty soon after Araújo’s chance, as Franck Kessié tripped Vinicius inside the area. Looking for his third goal involvement of the night, Karim Benzema stepped up to strike from the spot, and the Frenchman made no mistake from twelve yards out.

They should have made it four less than a minute later, as Barcelona’s poor passing saw Real Madrid break free on the left flank once again – but Rodrygo was unable to run onto Modrić’s driven ball across the box.

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Benzema could have been celebrating his third goal of the evening in the 77th minute, as a great ball into the box from Marco Asensio found the Frenchman – but his acrobatic finish was off-target! Still desperate to put more past their Catalan opponents, Real Madrid broke forward yet again though Asensio’s effort was directed straight at Ter Stegen.

The chances simply wouldn’t stop coming for los Blancos, and it was none other than Karim Benzema to find the game’s fourth goal. The Frenchman received the ball from Vinicius after the Brazilian’s mazy run into the box, and he duly fired home to complete a sensational hat-trick over his side’s most historic rivals.

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Despite returning to the Nou Camp with a slender lead from the first leg, Barcelona crash out after a hefty home defeat to Real Madrid. Vinicius’ strike before the break ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s side had the momentum at the interval – and Karim Benzema continued his red-hot goalscoring form. Real Madrid are through to the final, where they’ll face Osasuna.

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