In what was a frantic Copa del Rey showdown on Wednesday night, Real Madrid booked their spot in the final as they clinched a 5-3 victory against bitter local rivals Atletico Madrid.
While Atletico might have opened the scoring after just six minutes as Mario Hermoso headed home, Los Blancos came roaring back as Antonio Rudiger and Ferland Mendy struck quickly in the space of nine minutes.
Although the red-hot Antonine Griezmann might have scored a club record-breaking 174th goal for Atletico just before the half time break, Los Colchoneros suffered major Copa del Rey heartbreak as they failed to limp their way over the finish line.
With Dani Carvajal sending Wednesday’s derby showdown to extra time, it was the substitute duo of Joselu and Brahim Diaz who who eventually wrapped up a remarkable affair in the final few minuets.
Real Madrid play either Barcelona or Osasuna – who meet in the other semi-final on Thursday – in Sunday’s final.
In what was another Copa del Rey classic on Wednesday night, we have taken a look at the key talking points.
Real Madrid are dreaming of a domestic romp in 2024
While Real Madrid might have come under a huge amount of scrutiny last season as they missed out on the chance to defend their La Liga crown by a 10-point deficit, Los Blancos have come roaring back this time around.
Although Ancelotti’s side might still be battling it out with a record-breaking Girona at the top of the table, Madrid have their sights set on making even more history in 2024.
Breezing their way to a Champions League knockout stage ticket last month and tipped as a genuine European contender this season, the one-time AC Milan boss finds the mood in his camp at a red-hot high.
Now winning 11 of their previous 12 appearances across all competitions, Los Blancos have also not suffered a single defeat since a 3-1 La Liga defeat against Atletico way back on September 24th.
Firing on all cylinders and likely to take away a string of positives from their iconic Copa del Rey success on Wednesday night, Madrid should be believing that they can complete another domestic sweep this year.
Atletico continue to show issues on the road
While Atletico Madrid might have come flying out of the traps when opening up the 2023/24 campaign, Diego Simeone’s men have rather drastically struggled with their consistency over the past month.
Getting the New Year underway with an action-packed 4-3 loss away at Girona, the former Spanish champions have now won just a pair of their previous six appearances across all competitions.
Although Simeone’s side might have punched their own Champions League knockout stage ticket last month, Atletico have quickly gained a reputation for their extended issues on the road.
Suffering last-gasp heartbreak at the hands of their historic local rivals here, Los Colchoneros have lost four of their last five showdowns away from the Metropolitano and they have come under some increasing pressure.
Slipping out of La Liga’s top-four and facing what looks set to be a race to the wire in 2024, Simeone will know the importance of finding some crucial stability.
Joselu impresses again
While England international Jude Bellingham might have continued to break a string of records since arriving in the Spanish capital, the ex-Birmimngham starlet is not the only summer recruit who has impressed.
Although former Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema might have completed a bank-breaking move to Saudi Arabia back in June, Joselu has done an eye-catching job of filling the Frenchman’s void.
Coming off the bench and bagging a late strike on Wednesday night, the one-time Newcastle misfit has now notched four goals in his last six appearances across all formats.
Gaining a string of plaudits since arriving from Espanyol on an initial season-long loan switch, the 33-year-old has done enough to earn a permanent move to the Spanish icons.
With Ancelotti making it clear that he is happy with the attacking options that he has available, it appears that Joselu has a role to play across all fronts.
Real Madrid: Azzizabalaga, Carvajal, Rudiger, Fernandez, Mendy, Valverde, Tchouameni, Modric, Bellingham, Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior
Subs: Joselu, Guler, Kroos, Diaz, Camavinga, Ceballos
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso, Lino, Niguez, Koke, de Paul, Llorente, Morata, Griezmann
Subs: Witsel, Riquelme, Molina, Galan, Correa, Azpilicueta
Goals: Real Madrid: Rudiger (20’), Mendy (29’), Carvvajal (85’), Joselu (116’), Diaz (120+3’) – Atletico Madrid: Hermoso (6’), Griezmann (37’), Rédiger OG (78’)
Yellow Cards: Diaz (120+3’)
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Javier Alberola Rojas
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