Karim Benzema blows Barcelona away! Winners and losers as wily Carlo Ancelotti oversees Copa del Rey masterclass

Karim Benzema Real Madrid 2022-23
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Los Blancos secured their spot in the final with a resounding 4-0 win at Camp Nou, as the Ballon d'Or winner scored his second hat-trick of the week

Real Madrid love these nights. The Spanish giants were behind on aggregate to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final, facing Europe's best defensive side in a stadium where they had only conceded twice domestically all season.

Yet Carlo Ancelotti's side put four past their arch-rivals without really breaking a sweat. It was another entry for Ancelotti's fine collection of comebacks, with Madrid running out 4-1 aggregate winners to book a spot in the Copa del Rey final.

It took a blustery 60 seconds for the tie to be levelled — and 15 minutes for it to be turned on its head.

At the end of the first half, Robert Lewandowski was denied at one end by Thibaut Courtois and Madrid broke swiftly. The sweeping move was started and finished by Vinicius Jr, with a lovely Karim Benzema cut-back in between to lock the tie at 1-1 right before half-time.

Then came the Ancelotti magic. Benzema was at the centre of it all, bagging a hat-trick for a second game in a row and battering a stunned Barcelona defence.

He got Madrid going after the break, sweeping the ball into the far corner after a dart and pass from Luka Modric. He was ruthless thereafter, scoring from the spot for Madrid's third after Franck Kessie tripped Vinicius in the box, and adding the fourth with a delightful dink from an incisive Vinicius run.

There is indeed a trophy up for grabs here, and Madrid will fancy themselves in the final against Osasuna. But perhaps more importantly, they seem to be recapturing their magic ahead of a massive Champions League meeting with Chelsea next week.

GOAL breaks down the winners and losers from Camp Nou...

  1. WINNER: Karim Benzema
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    WINNER: Karim Benzema

    Over these past couple of seasons, Karim Benzema has pretty much done it all, culminating in a richly deserved Ballon d'Or triumph. However, there was one thing missing from his stellar CV: a Clasico hat-trick. Well, the wait is over, with the France forward netting a treble in his 43rd outing against Barcelona.

    Oh, and he also set up Vinicius' vital opener with a wonderfully disguised and executed cut-back for his Brazilian team-mate.

    Benzema truly is one of the game's great No.9s, the kind of forward who can do it all. And best of all, he's showing no signs of slowing up. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi long gone, the Clasico has a new king.

  2. LOSER: Franck Kessie

    LOSER: Franck Kessie

    Kessie was probably the most impressive Barcelona midfielder for the first half, but had a nightmare of a second. He was overrun by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and gave away a foolish penalty to hand Madrid their third on the night.

    Vinicius was going nowhere when Kessie dangled a leg. The Brazilian admittedly made the most of it, but Kessie offered the chance for Vinicius to go over - a true lapse of judgment from an experienced player who should know better.

    He was sacrificed after an hour for Ansu Fati, and was deservedly the first Barcelona midfielder to be removed from proceedings. Kessie is not the only Barcelona player at fault here, but his braindead moment allowed Madrid to pull away.

  3. WINNER: Carlo Ancelotti

    WINNER: Carlo Ancelotti

    Ancelotti joked with Osasuna coach Jagoba Arrasate back in February that the pair would meet again in the Copa del Rey final, and somehow he was right!

    Madrid fans feared the worst when they saw the line-up: Eduardo Camavinga at left-back; Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in midfield without the legs of Aurelien Tchouameni behind them.

    But Ancelotti's bold selection was fully vindicated. Camavinga was one of the best players on the pitch, Kroos controlled the game in the second half, while Modric provided the assist for Benzema's crucial second goal. Ancelotti may well move on this summer but, right now, he remains 'The Boss'.

  4. LOSER: Raphinha

    LOSER: Raphinha

    Raphinha was far too predictable on Wednesday. The Brazilian insisted on trying to cut sharply onto his left foot every time he received a pass. And his opposite number, Camavinga, who is by no means a natural left-back, did not have any difficulty in stopping him.

    Raphinha lost the ball relentlessly, killing Barcelona attacks before they had even started to mark a truly forgettable showing from a player who has struggled for consistency. He needed to have a big game here, especially with Barcelona lacking some of their big names in midfield. Instead, Raphinha was unreliable and lacking in quality.

    This wasn't necessarily a failure of attacking football — some of Barcelona's defending was truly terrible — but Raphinha is not the attacking game-changer that Barcelona thought they were getting last summer.

  5. WINNER: Madrid's momentum

    WINNER: Madrid's momentum

    Make no mistake about it, Madrid needed this. After losing the last Clasico, which effectively gifted the title to Barcelona, Los Blancos were in dire need of a boost as the Champions League quarter-finals approach. True, Chelsea might not be a particularly daunting last-eight opponent - particularly with Frank Lampard at the helm - but Madrid had lost a little momentum of late.

    They've got it back now, reminding their rivals, and perhaps most importantly of all themselves, that they are the biggest of big-game players. The Copa del Rey is now there for the taking for Real, but the kings of Europe are clearly in no mood to relinquish their continental crown either.

  6. LOSER: Xavi

    LOSER: Xavi

    He's not quite there yet. To his credit, Xavi has pieced together an excellent first full season at the helm for Barcelona. He has all but led the Balugrana to their first league title in three years, assembled the best defensive unit in Europe, and gotten the best out of some of his older players who appeared to be sharply declining.

    But his record in knockout football has been abysmal so far. And it proved so again today. Barcelona were in control for most of the first half, but as soon as Madrid hit their stride, the Blaugrana were lost. Xavi probably needed to change things at half-time. It was clear for the last few minutes of the opening period that Barcelona were starting to be exposed in transition. But the manager stuck to his guns, and could only watch as his team fell apart.

    He probably cannot be faulted for the litany of injuries his side has suffered. Indeed, the manager might, quite rightfully, think that the likes of Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Andreas Christensen could have given Barca a real boost here. Still, this was more of an indictment of Xavi's big-game chops. Once again, he was handily beaten.