Thursday night was a tough one for the Spanish football giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, as both teams were dumped out of the Copa Del Ray.
We all have the experience of our dreams being crushed in the past, but when it comes to big dreams it’s much harder to watch them going away. Isn’t it? Anyway, it was just on Thursday night when Barcelona and Real Madrid had this feeling in a dramatic and bitter situation.
Though we all thought it would beBarca
to battle over the championship, things got completely different and complicated this week.
In fact, first on Tuesday Valencia were knocked out by a last-minute penalty from Roberto Soldado, pushing Granada into a semifinal for the first time in 51 years. Surprising! Huh? Later on Wednesday, Mirandés, which many haven’t even heard their name, scored a last-minute goal to win their match over Villarreal with a 4-2 result. This way they reached their second ever semi-final.
On that day, Real Madrid had to face Real Sociedad, while Barcelona had to go against Athletic Club Bilbao, and we were all sure about the winner of these two matches. However, things did not go as we assumed.
In fact, first Los Blancos were defeated 4-3 by Real Sociedad and then Setien’s team were defeated 1-0 byAthletic Club Bilbao
. Unbelievable! Agree?
Martin Odegaard gave his parent club a telling reminder of his talents asReal Sociedad
stunned Real Madrid with a 4-3 victory in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.
The 21-year-old playmaker opened the scoring midway through the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu, assisted by a dreadful goalkeeping error from Alphonse Areola.
That was Odegaard's sixth goal in the first season of a planned two-campaign loan stint in San Sebastian and Sociedad striker Alexander Isak then took center stage with two goals in as many second-half minutes.
Mikel Merino made it 4-1 after Marcelo pulled one back for Madrid, and Sociedad held out to hand Zinedine Zidane's shuffled line-up a first defeat in 22 matches, despite goals from Rodrygo Goes and Nacho and a red card for Andoni Gorosabel in a riotous finale.
Areola erred terribly to reward an enterprising start from Sociedad, pushing Isak's strike into Odegaard's path before allowing the midfielder's first-time follow-up to slide embarrassingly through his legs.
James Rodriguez's snapshot from the edge of the box drew a fine stop from Alex Remiro low to his right, with the Real Sociedad goalkeeper denying Vinicius Jr and Federico Valverde in quick succession before Sergio Ramos planted a 39th-minute header against the crossbar from an offside position.
Isak's wayward finishing had threatened to undermine Sociedad's fine work during the first half and he had a 49th-minute effort chalked off when a VAR review showed him to be offside on the end of Odegaard's through ball.
But the Swedish forward swiveled to superbly volley a chipped cross from Ander Barrenetxea – on as a half-time replacement for Adnan Januzaj – into the top left corner.
Isak then made a further mockery of his earlier wastefulness by thundering an unstoppable shot high beyond Areola from Nacho's mishit clearance.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Remiro's earlier sureness deserted him as Marcelo fired through his grasp at the near post, handing Madrid a 59th-minute lifeline.
More slapdash defending sealed their fate, however, with Merino the unlikely and unmarked beneficiary when Isak turned provider.
Madrid almost dug themselves out of a hole of their own making, with Vinicius cutting back for Rodrygo to slam in after having a header of his own disallowed for offside.
Nacho's stoppage-time header and Gorosabel's second yellow card, for a foul on Vinicius, meant Sociedad stumbled over the line in a manner at odds with their earlier brilliance.
Zidane's Real Madrid might sometimes lack fluent creativity going forward, but they are generally a tough nut to crack. Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane were absent from the first-choice back four here, but Los Blancos conceding as many in 69 minutes as they had in their previous 11 matches was an unforeseen development that Barcelona and forthcoming Champions League opponents Manchester City will have watched with interest.
The narrative was set up deliciously for Odegaard and the youngster gleefully recited his telling lines, although Isak proved the star turn by continuing his love affair with this competition. The 20-year-old now has seven goals in five Copa del Rey outings this term.
James was hooked at half-time and Brahim Diaz found himself consigned to the margins. Nevertheless, none of Zidane's understudies blotted their copybook in the manner of Areola. A couple of wretched early clearances from the France international set the tone for a fitful Madrid start and he will quickly want to forget his part in Sociedad's opener.
A hard-fought quarter-final appeared destined for extra time until Williams applied enough of a touch to Ibai Gomez's inswinging cross from the right flank to send the ball beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the net.
The winner in the third additional minute saw Athletic through to the last four and, with Real Madrid surprisingly beaten at home by Real Sociedad just hours earlier, it means neither of Spain's two heavyweight clubs are left standing.
, who had made the headlines in the lead-up to the game for criticizing director of football Eric Abidal, had Barca's best chance, only to be denied by Unai Simon's outstretched left leg late in the second half.
The Athletic goalkeeper had also denied substitute Antoine Griezmann but, for the first time in seven seasons, the Catalan club will not be involved in the final of the competition.
Messi was one of six Barca players to see yellow, booked for a sliding challenge on Raul Garcia in the first half that saw Ansu Fati go close, the teenager seeing an on-target effort on the turn blocked by the retreating Unai Nunez.
However, it was Athletic who carried the greater threat before the break. Williams correctly had a close-range finish from a corner ruled out for offside, while Dani Garcia saw a rising shot drift narrowly wide after Barca lost possession near their own penalty area.
Barca did improve in the second half yet failed to capitalize on their opportunities as they controlled possession.
The normally reliable Messi was unable to provide the finish to Arthur’s through-ball, and the let-off allowed Athletic to snatch the win thanks to Williams' dramatic intervention at the other end.
It has been a turbulent few months for the reigning LaLiga champions. A change in coach, a key injury to Luis Suarez and now a disgruntled superstar, with Messi responding to Abidal's words by telling the Frenchman to name those individuals who failed to pull their weight. Airing dirty linen in public is not a good look. Quique Setien described the job as beyond his "wildest dreams" following his appointment – it may be turning into a nightmare after this latest setback.
Williams was forced to feed off scraps after the interval, yet he had the presence of mind to get across the front of Clement Lenglet and reach Gomez's teasing delivery. However, it should not be forgotten that it was Simon's saves that set up the opportunity for the striker to be the hero.
As if the result was not bad enough, Barcelona saw Gerard Pique forced to come off in the 80th minute with an apparent groin injury. His departure will be a concern, particularly with the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli coming up at the end of the month.
It’s the first time since 1955 that both of Spain’s big two have exited the competition on the same evening, and the first time in over a decade that Barca haven’t made it to at least the semi-final stage.
In fact, the Camo Nou men have been in six consecutive finals, and nine of the last 11. But this time, they're not even in the semifinals. The last time that neither they nor Madrid made a final was over a decade ago.
Anyway, that is not the end of football for any of them as Barca will go against Real Betis tomorrow, while Zidane’s men will go against Osasuna.