Another game, another manita. Barcelona have pretty much secured their spot in the final on April 20 after easily beating Almeria 5-0 at Camp Nou. After losing 0-8 at home to Barcelona in the league, Almeria now became the seventh to be victim of a manita at the hands of Barcelona this year (after Panathinaikos, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Espanyol and Betis).
The star of the show: the inevitable Leo Messi. The best player in the world was the first to break Almeria's resistance, scoring two goals in the first half and sending an exquisite assist Keita's way for the Malian to score the fifth in the end.
The match was pretty much decided after 30 minutes. It's not that Almeria didn't play well, they did. But Barcelona, and especially Lionel Messi, were simply inspired. Pedro, who played his 100th game for Barcelona's first team, and David Villa also got their names on the scoresheet and Barcelona led 4-0 at half-time. The MVP (Messi, Villa, Pedro) attacking trio now has a combined 70 goals this season and are on pace to beat Messi, Eto'o and Henry's 100 goals from the glorious 2008/2009 season.
In the second half, the blaugrana understandably slowed down a bit; Afellay came into the game and showed some brilliant skills; if he manages to gel with the team, he'll definitely be one for the future. The 24-year-old Dutch player is definitely a very rare talent.
Seydou Keita might not exactly be a rare talent, but he's a "team-first" kind of player and his contribution is crucial; he showed it once again today and scored a nice goal.
With all due respect to Almeria, the tie is pretty much over; next week's second leg will be no more than a mere formality.
In the other semifinal match, the official did Sevilla no favors and they lost 1-0 at home to Real Madrid. Unless Sevilla can pull an upset at the Bernabeu next week, there will be an El Clásico in the final. With the final being played on April 20, this means that there might be two Clásicos in the same week, as Barcelona travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on April 17 for a league match.
Two Clásicos in four ways - there's a mouthwatering prospect for every football fan. But first, both Barcelona and Real Madrid must confirm their place in the final next week.
While the Cup might not be as important as the league or the Champions League, Barcelona play every competition to win. And they sure as hell can't let Real Madrid get their hands on the trophy, therefore the final should be a cracking contest.