May 22, 2022

Two weeks before facing PSG, Real Madrid beaten by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey

Incandescent throughout the match, the Cathedral of San Mamés blushed a little more in the 89th minute. Feeling the blow, Vesga intercepted a pass from Casemiro and then found Berenguer. Entering the break, the latter played Nacho and sent a magnificent shot from the left into the small net of Courtois. She qualified Athletic for the semi-finals of the Spanish Cup along with Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Valencia.

Welcomed in Bilbao by projectiles which damaged his bus, Real Madrid suffered in great widths against the Basques. As usual, the latter were well organized, especially in the laundry. But as usual, they sinned in the finish. Dani Garcia (9th, 13th), Muniain (22nd), Inaki Williams (41st), Martinez (47th) and Raul Garcia (50th) were often clumsy, and sometimes caught by a good Militao.

Real Madrid, without Benzema, had rare chances. Rodrygo framed a safe shot (26th) and Casemiro missed the biggest in the 81st (see elsewhere). The merengue club was mostly eaten in the midfield, like a Kroos next to the plate and warned from the 23rd. Twelve days before the clash against PSG in the Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti would surely have done without such a poor performance.

The fact: Nico Williams injured on a backheel

His two goals in the 3rd round of the Cup against Mancha Real (2-0), his decisive pass in the round of 16 against Barça (3-2, ap) but above all his goal in the semi-final of the Supercup against Atlético (2- 1) made Nico Williams the hero of Bilbao in January. Aware of Real Madrid’s weakness on the left side of their defense in the absence of Ferland Mendy, Marcelino still fielded the 19-year-old. He was a real poison, defending well on Vinicius, pressing high and constantly provoking an overwhelmed Alaba. At the start of many Basque actions, he was caught in extremis by Militao (34th) before injuring his hamstrings in his right leg on a totally useless backheel since he had been flagged offside. In tears, he was replaced at the break by Berenguer, who scored a superb goal from the left to qualify his team (89th).

Nico Williams is out injured. (Cord Press/Sports Press)

The turning point: Casemiro misses the opener

With a quarter of an hour remaining, Real Madrid finally got their foot on the ball and settled their game. After a long possession streak, Asensio found Casemiro in the box with a brilliant technical move. But the Brazilian midfielder, who appeared alone in front of Agirrezabala, completely crushed his strike, shooting the opposing goalkeeper, preferred to Unai Simon in the Cup (81st). The opportunity had passed for the merengue club, punished a few minutes later.