Barcelona's Sergio Busquets believes El Clasico draw is a fair result

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Sergio Busquets should have done better

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets termed the El Clasico draw with Real Madrid a fair result and said neither team deserved to win the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final clash.

The fierce rivals played out a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou in the first leg on Wednesday night. An early goal from Lucas Vasquez was cancelled by a brilliant goal from Malcom in the second period.

“Both teams had chances,” Busquets said after the game, according to Marca.

“But I don’t think either team deserved to win more than the other. I think it was an even match and in the first half they played more on the counter-attack. The draw is the fairest thing.”

Malcom was brilliant for the Catalans, with and without his goal, terrorising Real’s full-backs all night and deservedly getting on the scoresheet. And he was praised by team-mate Busquets.

“Surely his confidence is good,” added the Spanish veteran.

“The goal will give him a lot. What we hope is that everyone will help out.”

The teams now have 90 minutes and possibly 30 more at the Santiago Bernabeu to come out with a winner.

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Barcelona player ratings as Malcom steps in for Lionel Messi in El Clasico draw with Real Madrid

Andy West 7/02/2019
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Barcelona and Real Madrid shared the spoils with an entertaining 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou.

An early goal from Lucas Vazquez was cancelled out by Malcom’s thrashed leveller, but who were the players to shine or flop?

Let’s find out with our Barca player ratings.

STARTING XI

Ter Stegen 6. Had no chance with the opener. A wobbly moment when he misplaced a clearance outside the box.

Semedo 7. Preferred to Sergi Roberto at right back. Battled hard in an even fight with Vinicius and was progressive coming forward.

Pique 8. Authoritative performance at the back, winning the ball and using it with great purpose. Came close with a first half header,

Lenglet 6. Spoiled an otherwise fine performance by being badly beaten at near post by Vazquez for the opener

Alba 6. Starved of Messi’s service, he was far less influential than usual but bounded forward to tee up the equaliser.

Rakitic 5. Made a sloppy start and continued to labour. Thumped a first half header against the bar but was replaced.

Busquets 6. Applied calm control in possession but sometimes struggled without the ball, especially early on.

Arthur 7. Couldn’t get involved during the early stages but soon helped Barca up the tempo, retaining possession under pressure.

Malcom 8. Replaced Messi and was full of endeavour. Capped fine display with well-taken equaliser before hobbling off.

Suarez 6. Often frustrated but still came close with a low curler in the first half and hit the post to set up the leveller.

Coutinho 4. Peripheral presence, struggling to make any impact except a couple of harmless long-range shots. Replaced by Messi.

SUBS

Vidal 6. Replaced Rakitic in midfield. Threw himself into the game and, unsurprisingly, was booked for fouling Casemiro.

Messi 6. Entered to a hero’s welcome after an hour, and produced some threatening moments but nothing decisive.

Alena 6. Barca’s last sub, coming on for Malcom on the left flank. Showed good energy and looked comfortable.

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Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari and his glowing tribute to Barcelona icon Lionel Messi

Alex Rea 6/02/2019
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Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari

Sometimes words spoken or written can come back to haunt you.

In the case of Santiago Solari, he may never have anticipated a 2012 column written for El Pais would resurface at a rather inopportune time.

Ahead of three El Clasicos within a month, words from the Real Madrid boss on a certain Lionel Messi have been dug up.

In it, the Argentine offers a glowing tribute to the Barcelona icon and even suggests his compatriot is on a different level to eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Scoring is intrinsic to Messi in the same way that storms, lightning or hurricane wins are atmospheric phenomena,” he wrote.

“Every time Messi receives the ball the earth shakes, everyone is silent and rival coaches sink their heads between their shoulders and put their hands in their pockets, like someone who has just seen lightning and has no choice but to wait for thunder. The air trembles a few seconds. Then the goal is heard.”

Nice words of course but here’s the kicker…

“Cristiano is the best player in the world because Messi plays another sport. The really incredible thing about him has been his tremendous stability the last four to five years, a thing of not stopping, something practically inhuman.”

Solari will be witnessing first hand the magic of Messi when he takes in his first Clasico clash as head coach. Messi is an injury doubt for the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg on Wednesday but should he not make the Camp Nou fixture, he will be back for the return leg and La Liga game in the next few weeks.

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