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From The Mind of Xoel: Barça Gets Back on the Winning Track in Copa Debut

Pedro led the way with two goals as FC Barcelona defeated FC Cartagena 4-1 on Friday night in El Blaugrana's Copa del Rey debut of 2013-14. Cesc Fabregas and Jean Marie Dongou also grabbed goals on the night. With a 4-1 road win, Barcelona don't have too much to worry about for the second leg of this Copa clash in a few weeks.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

FC Barcelona got back on the winning track with a 4-1 win over Cartagena on Friday night. Fernando got the goal that stunned Barcelona in the 16th minute as a great through-ball found Fernando, and the striker put it past Jose Manuel Pinto for the 1-0 lead. Bad defending by Barcelona once again.

Pedro tied it up in the 37th minute as he was able to get past the Cartagena defense, and slip it to the far post for the equalizer. It was Pedro's eighth goal of the competitive season. Just before halftime, Cesc Fabregas gave Barcelona the lead as a great pass by Adriano set up Cesc for the second Barça goal of the night.

Pedro got his brace in the 76th minute. Pedrito was cutting through the middle of the Cartagena defensive line, and Alexis Sanchez was able to find the Canarian who faked out the goalkeeper and scored his second goal of the night. In stoppage time, Jean Marie Dongou grabbed his goal as the kid was in the right place at the right time to put in a Pedro shot that hit off the post. Great to see the kid get his first first-squad goal in his young career.

The Best: Pedro

Given this FC Barcelona win was against Cartagena, we still have to give credit to the team on the win, and in particular, to Pedro and Jordi Alba. Pedrito needed a nice game like Friday's to help him bounce back from a dip in performance these past few games. Pedro did miss a few good occasions in the first few minutes of this game, but he was able to bounce back and put an excellent finish on the shot for the first goal. The second goal was what we want to see more out of Pedro: cut through the defense and shoot.

The Worst Great to see: Jordi Alba

It was great to see Jordi Alba back. "The Flying Squirrel", as I lovingly call him, was running well all game. Alba is a very important part of both the Barcelona defense as well as the offense. His runs are almost perfectly timed, and if this team is going to win La Liga and make a run in the Champions League, we need to see a running, healthy Jordi Alba. Viva Flying Squirrel!

What We Learned?: Barcelona didn't look great, but hey, a win is a win. And that was needed after last week's poor performances.

While FC Barcelona didn't have a classic, tiki-taka performance we are all used to seeing from this team, a win is still a win. And after a week of criticism following losses to Ajax in the CL and the loss to Athletic Club, I'm sure Tata Martino will take this and any kind of win for his team. Being up 4-1 on aggregate allows Tata to use more of the bench players for the second leg at the Camp Nou on December 17. This will allow for the regular starting XI players to get much needed rest as well as give players like Sergi Roberto, Dongou, Patric and/or Adama some first-squad playing time.

One last thing: FC Barcelona finally won a game wearing the Senyera kit. At least we now know the kits aren't jinxing the team.

What's Next?: Wednesday vs. Celtic

Barcelona will look to secure the top spot in Group H of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League as they host Celtic FC at the Camp Nou. Look for Gerard Pique to start as he did not play in the Copa game. Andres Iniesta should start as well for the same reason as Pique. Tata Martino must apply the pressing game, as his team needs the early goal to keep them relaxed. Focused, but relaxed.

Xoel's Final Word

It wasn't a classic FC Barcelona performance, but the Catalans managed to get the job done in their first Copa del Rey game of the 2013-14 season with a 4-1 win on the road against Cartagena on Friday night.

Barcelona now head back to Catalunya to get ready for Celtic. It's never an easy game with them, so Barça has to stay focused to secure the top spot in Group H.

Good win, boys. Time to train hard and get ready for Wednesday's game at the Camp Nou.

Time to stay focused, and win Group H.

Time for Barça to be Barça again.


Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona

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