Barça steamroller over Celta


Messi, huge, helped by his ‘henchman’ Jordi Alba, led the Culés‘ 5-0 hammering of Celta

Barça strolled into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, after thumping Celta 5-0 at the Camp Nou, making good the 1-1 draw they achieved at Balaídos las week. Valverde’s side were vastly superior to their opponents, and after a superb first half with Leo Messi in command, the tie was already settled.

Valverde put out a nearly full-strength team, in the 4-2-3-1 formation that we are used to seeing this season. Cillessen played between the sticks, with Semedo and Jordi Alba on the flanks, Mascherano and Piqué in the central defence, Busquets and Rakitic as double pivots, André Gomes on the right, Iniesta on the left, and Messi playing behind Luis Suárez. Maxi Gómez was, perhaps surprisingly, left out of the Celta starting XI -in principle because of an injury- and the Aspas-Emre Mor duo did little to intimidate the Blaugrana back four.

This was because, above everything else, the figure of Leo Messi emerged right from the start, at his very best level. The Argentinian star put in a superb performance, picking up the ball between lines, forming a devastating partnership with Jordi Alba. The first Blaugrana goal came in the 12th minute, after Messi received from Jordi Alba and smacked in a volley that Sergio could not get near.

From then on, it was a stroll for Barça. Two minutes later they made it two, once again after a move in which the Argentinian found Alba on the left, took the return pass and thumped another great shot into the upright. In the 22nd minute, a backheel from Messi and a shot from Iniesta that the Galician ‘keeper managed to stop, and then in the 25th minute, another pass from Messi to Suárez, who attempted a scissor-kick that went wide.

The 3-0 came in the 27th minute, after Messi produced a magical pass into the space for Jordi Alba, who escaped his marker and hit in a left-footed shot past Sergio, who was off his line. With Celta now in complete disarray, the 4-0 came in the 30th, after Sisto made a bad back pass that Luis Suárez latched on to and rifled past the keeper from a close distance.

In the second half, the pace dropped a lot; Celta knew they were out, Barça knew they were through, and only Dembélé and Arnaiz coming on -to replace Messi and Iniesta- livened things up a bit. The French youngster pulled off a brilliant move in the 68th minute -though perhaps he was a little selfish because he failed to spot Suárez on his own in the centre of the area- but his shot went out for a corner. Shortly afterwards he played in Arnaiz, who shot narrowly wide. Suárez, in the 79th minute, almost scored a great goal from midfield, but that also went narrowly wide. In the end it was Rakitic who made it 5-0, the definitive score, from a corner taken by Dembélé.