Vinicius 8/10 in showing he belongs in the Clasico as Madrid draw at Barca
Wednesday's Clasico Copa del Rey semifinal first leg at the Camp Nou finished 1-1. Lucas Vazquez's close-range finish had Real Madrid deservedly ahead at the break, but Malcom's equaliser was merited as Barcelona were on top in the second half.
The first half especially showed Madrid are back at the level that makes them a match for any other team. Youngster Vinicius Junior showed he has the personality and talent for this elevated level. The result makes them very slight favourites to qualify from the second leg back at the Bernabeu on Feb. 27.
All the hard defensive work protecting the lead was undone with an offside trap malfunction on Malcom's equaliser, meaning Madrid have not kept a clean sheet at Camp Nou since 2007.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Santi Solari's selection decisions paid off with the front three combining for the early goal. High press and breaking in numbers gave his team control of the first half, but then maybe contributed to lower energy levels after the break. He must receive credit overall for the huge turnaround since Madrid were beaten 5-1 on their last visit here in late October.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Keylor Navas, 7 -- Went at full length to deny Luis Suarez close to half-time, but might have done more to clear from Jordi Alba just before Malcom's equaliser. Still unbeaten in five Camp Nou Clasicos.
DF Raphael Varane, 8 -- Often in the right place at the right time, especially with an important tackle on Lionel Messi soon after Blaugrana talisman entered from the bench.
DF Sergio Ramos, 7 -- An early, harsh yellow card seemed due to his reputation, but he extended his record tally in this fixture to 23. Seemed to misjudge the ball as Malcom's shot got between covering defender and post for the equaliser. Scarpered cleverly back to position when a second yellow seemed possible late on.
DF Marcelo, 6 -- Given quite a chasing by Barca's previously much-maligned right winger Malcom, with it seemingly a Barca tactic to exploit the Madrid vice-captain's lack of form.
MF Luka Modric, 7 -- Pulled out the full array of neat touches and passes as the Ballon d'Or holder totally overshadowed Arthur in their zone of the pitch in the first half. Not as influential when Barca took over possession as the game went on.
FW Karim Benzema, 7 -- More superb work in the assist for the first goal, and he might have scored himself had Vinicius been more generous and accurate with crosses during Madrid's dominant period. Isolated in the second half when his teammates sat too deep.
FW Vinicius Junior, 8 -- The youngest Madrid player to feature in a 21st-century Clasico took just five minutes to make a key contribution on the opening goal. Sometimes took the wrong option when Barca's defence was stretched, but the impact on the game from an 18-year-old was super impressive.
MF Casemiro, 6 -- Came in just as the game was opening up after Barca's equaliser, and almost paid for lapse in concentration when Messi robbed him in a really dangerous area.
FW Gareth Bale, 6 -- Left on the bench as he's only just back from injury. After replacing Vinicius, he was not sharp enough to take advantage when Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was stranded off his line.
FW Marco Asensio, N/R -- Did not get much chance to impress after replacing Lucas late on.