VILLANUEVA DE LA SERENA — FC Barcelona opened its 2015-15 Copa del Rey campaign with a 0-0 draw over CF Villanovense (CFV) on Wednesday night.
Gerard Gumbau had the true first shot on goal in the 17th minute, as his long shot from outside the box went just left of the post. Jordi Masip made a nice save just two minutes later on a low shot from CFV's Elias. Munir had a good look at goal in the 30th minute, but the kid's shot was too strong and high. CFV had a few corner kick chances soon after, but nothing came from them. CFV nearly took the lead in the 42nd second, as Javi Sanchez's shot hit the top of the crossbar and out.
Sandro had a great shot at goal in the 63rd minute, but his shot went high and over the goalkeeper Jose Antonio Fuentes. Sandro with another shot just two minutes later, but Fuentes was there to make the save. A few chances by CFV in the 77th and 79th minute but no goals came from them. A header by Marc Bartra nearly went in, but Fuentes was there to tap the ball out.
Overall, it was a dull match, to say the least.
FT: CF Villanovense 0-0 FC Barcelona
In my opinion, the young player that stood out the most was Wilfrid Kaptoum. The 19-year-old Cameroonian showed much energy and could be a good option for the next Copa match. He did make a few mistakes in the match, but let's not make too big of deal of those. The most important part is that Kaptoum gained experience and confidence. Sergi Samper looked good as well. It is a small victory that Samper, who has deserved first-team playing time for a while now, got time on the pitch. Let's hope Lucho calls him up more (but I'm not holding my breath). Aitor — who became the eighth player to debut for FC Barcelona under Luis Enrique — did well, giving a bit of a spark to the offense in the second half.
Thomas Vermaelen had a nice match. With Javier Mascherano suspended for two matches thanks to his outburst towards an official last week, it will more than likely be Vermaelen who gets a start soon in the Barça back line. This match against CFV gave Thomas the playing time he and his legs needed to get back to game shape.
The players I'm most disappointed with are Sandro and Munir. Both of these first-team players looked like subpar B-team players against CFV.
Sandro has a lot of heart and passion, and you can see his fire on the pitch. But Sandro's finishing is not good, he makes poor decisions at times and is not making a case to stay with the club long-term. Too many times, I've wondered if it's a discipline problem, immaturity problem or an anxiety problem with Sandro. I want the kid to do well, and yes, he's had his moments, but there have been more close chances than converted chances with him. Luis Enrique will stick with him because of depth issues and the fact that the other options have been either loaned out or sold.
Munir is the more dynamic forward compared to Sandro. But against CFV, Munir wasn't dynamic and lacked any real effort. Like Sandro, Munir didn't show any merit to his first-team status. Let's hope in the second leg that we see Munir try to impose his will on the match. Sometimes, it's those things that create and lead to goal-scoring opportunities. Imposing your will in a match is something Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar know how to do; I don't know if Munir and Sandro will ever learn to do. I don't expect the two kids to become just like the golden trio, but it'd be nice to see some effort and at least try use some of the golden trio's traits, hustle and heart.
While this 0-0 draw isn't the outcome we all wanted to see, let's not panic. Barcelona will win the second leg at the Camp Nou. The best thing about this match was that it gave youngsters like Samper, Aitor and Kaptoum playing time and experience. It will help their confidence and I'm sure Lucho will look to some of them for the second leg.
Good job, kids. Força Barça!