BarcelonaBarça has stopped the crisis in the best possible place. The Blaugrana won at the Santiago Bernabéu, in the first leg of the semi-finals of the Cup, thanks to one of the ugliest goals in memory and a performance based on the defensive aspect. Next, some hot notes.
Countercultural victory. Xavi made a point of saying that Madrid was the favorite in the tie. “They are the current champions of the League and of Europe”, justified the coach, aware of the difficulty of visiting the Bernabéu with significant losses and after two successive defeats. This cautious speech resulted in a tremendously pragmatic version of Barça, who went out to the Chamartín to hand over the ground and possession to the opponent. Deprived of Pedri’s talent and the threat of Lewandowski, he concentrated on not taking damage in the defensive phase and only released Ferran Torres in attack. It was a countercultural plan, just like Almeria’s 42 crosses without a finisher, but in this case it did work. It has already been seen that you can win a classic playing, with all due respect, like Cadiz again.
Raphinha is taking half-hearted advantage of it. Even if they are capable of scoring at Anfield with frightening ease, Madrid are still a predictable team. This is demonstrated by his almost obsessive tendency to charge the game towards Vinícius’ area. Xavi made up for it again by pairing the Brazilian with Araujo, who was beautifully assisted by Raphinha to reach the goal. The former Leeds man displayed his formative years with Bielsa to the extent that he covered more of a full-back’s habitat than that of a winger. Hat, this obstinacy to scratch in defense. Nothing to say. But perhaps more was expected with the ball from the man who had to minimize Dembélé’s injury absence. Barça paid 60 million for him to take on more creative responsibilities.
The best known version. Raphinha is not brave what it cost. And Ferran Torres, despite being the assistant in the play that caused Militao to make it 0-1 in his own goal, neither. On the other hand, Kounde, who also made a millionaire a few months ago, has become a pillar of this Barça. With plenty of conditions, the French scorer is mainly playing full-back due to the absence of the signing of Azpilicueta, but at the Bernabéu he played as a central player and showed that he has not forgotten about it. An imposing hierarchy walked on land, sea and air. He had to cover any escape to prevent Madrid from equalizing and, together with a more than correct Marcos Alonso, he succeeded. What an acquisition, that of the ex-Seville player!
Explanations, come on. The victory in this classic comes in the midst of a Negreira scandal. With the referees joining ranks in front of some facts that stink, the white fans spooning it in and filling the Bernabéu with 500 bills with Joan Laporta’s face and the investors of Espai Barça turning up their noses and raising their requirements to invest in the new Camp Nou. The victory, even if it is Pyrrhic and rather ugly, is manna in the midst of the noise and lifts the spirits of the culled, but, just in case, it cannot serve to postpone the convincing explanations about the refereeing suspicion and, what is more serious, the tuff of illicit enrichment that the Prosecutor’s Office is about to prosecute. Laporta should not appear alone with his compliance, but at the same time with Gaspart, Rosell and Bartomeu. It’s taking a while, gentlemen.