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Barcelona to the Copa del Rey Final!

In this column, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his take on FC Barcelona's 3-1 win over Villarreal, as Barça goes for silverware on May 30 in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Club Bilbao.

Ney and Luisito
Ney and Luisito
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

FC Barcelona will play for a trophy this season, as El Blaugrana defeated Villarreal 3-1 on Wednesday to move on to the Copa del Rey final on May 30 against Athletic Club Bilbao.

Neymar gave Barça the lead in the third minute, as Luis Suarez crossed to Lionel Messi who ran toward the middle of the pitch, and Leo lobbed it into the box to the Brazilian who stayed onside and beat Sergio Asenjo for the away goal.

Villarreal equalized in the 39th minute, as a Jaume Costa cross found former Barça player Jonathan Dos Santos for the equalizer.

Just before the Villarreal goal, Tomas Pina struck down Sergio Busquets with a hard challenge on Busi's right ankle. Busquets was stretchered off.

Pina was finally sent off in the 65th minute as his rough challenges all game long finally came back to bite him and the Yellow Submarine.

Suarez ended the semifinal in the 74th minute, as a lovely pass from Javier Mascherano found Luisito and "el pistolero" went around Asenjo and put the ball in the back of the open net to sink the Yellow Submarine.

Neymar added the third and final goal for FC Barcelona in the 88th minute as a lovely pass by Xavi found the head of the Brazilian to make it 3-1.

FT: Villarreal 1-3 FC Barcelona. Barça wins 6-2 on aggregate.

Xoel's Thoughts/Analysis

Well, it wasn't the prettiest of wins, but it was a win.

Barcelona struggled to stop the Villarreal pressure many times during the match. Credit goes to the home team for putting on the pressure, knowing this Barcelona team has shown weakness on defense too many times this season.

With the Villarreal pressure, it was going to take a combination of teamwork and individual skill to get an away goal for Barcelona. And in Neymar's opening goal, we saw all of that. Luis Suarez's cross to Leo Messi was on point. Then, we saw how Messi and Neymar's chemistry is in sync, as Neymar knew the exact moment to move when Leo gave him the look signaling the lob pass was coming.

When Jonathan Dos Santos scored for Villarreal, I first thought it was a bit disrespectful that he pumped his first and celebrated scoring against the team that helped him grow as a footballer. But after the match, I felt it wasn't as bad as I had originally thought. Why? Because A.) Johnny Two-Saints was in the moment, B.) Who doesn't celebrate when they score a goal?, and C.) He still feels a bit disappointed that things didn't work out for him at Barcelona. Remember that Dos Santos was on the bench at Barcelona for so many seasons, patiently waiting for his time to come. When his time to prove himself in the 2013-14 under Tata Martino, Jonathan Dos Santos suffered injury and missed significant time. Tata was willing to give Dos Santos a shot, but injury kept Jonathan from his moment. I wish Dos Santos well at Villarreal, where he's getting the minutes to prove his merit.


I wasn't too worried that Luis Suarez started the match. Yes, Luis is a bit reckless at times, but knowing he's one yellow card away from missing the Copa final, Suarez wasn't going to do something dumb in the game. Luis Suarez did the opposite of dumb against Villarreal: Suarez was a genius. Luis' hustle, crosses, and of course his goal-scoring was on display. Suarez could've had a hat trick if not for a selfish play by Neymar and near shot by Villarreal goalkeeper Asenjo.

Luis Suarez has scored five of Barcelona's last eight goals. Grande Luisito!

In December, after seeing him struggle a bit, I thought we'd see the best of Luis Suarez at FC Barcelona next season. Boy was I wrong, as we're seeing Suarez light it up for Barça now.

Let's also give credit to Javier Mascherano on the night. "El jefectio" was key in Barcelona's first two goals, as it was Masche's long passes that began the goal-scoring plays. With Sergio Busquets potentially out for a while, Javier Mascherano becomes an even more key figure—now at the defensive midfield area—for this team and their chances of continuing this good form.

Neymar with a good game prior to time off

Neymar displayed the good and bad side of him against Villarreal. The bad was, of course, the selfish play in the second half where he had Suarez open for a goal on the right side in the 72nd minute. Instead, Ney tried to go for goal himself. Nevertheless, the good was Neymar's brace, as the Brazilian had a good game, overall, and bouncing back from a three-game streak of weak performances. Neymar will get some time to rest now, as he is suspended for Barcelona's next Liga game due to accumulation of yellow cards.

Obviously, the most important thing from this Copa semifinal match sans Barcelona punching their ticket to the final was the injury to Sergio Busquets. During the match, there were reports that Busi went to the hospital. But late in the match, we saw Sergio in his street clothes and sitting on the Barça bench, smiling. While it is encouraging news to see Busi smiling, it's pretty obvious he will be out for some time. Javier Mascherano becomes the CDM for Barcelona, with Marc Bartra rotating to CB along with Jeremy Mathieu. There is always the chance that Sergi Samper could be called up to the first squad to help the bench.

Copa final at the Bernabéu?

There have been rumors that FC Barcelona will ask the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP) to have the Copa final at the Santiago Bernabéu. If you recall in 2012, Barcelona asked for the Copa final (against Athletic Club) to be held at the home of Real Madrid. But Florentino Perez rejected the idea, claiming the Bernabéu was going under "toilet facilities repair" at the time.

Barcelona and all Culés may ask for the Copa final in the Bernabéu, but don't hold your breath. Florentino will never allow it, and the LFP won't do anything to displease Perez.

There's a reason the nickname is "Liga Florentino Perez."

Expect the Copa final to mostly likely be at either the Vicente Calderon, like it was three years ago for Barça v. Athletic Club; Mestalla, the traditional Barça v. Madrid setting of recent years; or perhaps the participant's home stadiums: the Camp Nou or the new San Mamés.

Xoel's Final Word

It wasn't the prettiest display of football, overall, by FC Barcelona, but the plays were made when they were needed, as Barça sinks Villarreal, 3-1.

Barcelona will play for a trophy this season. After the crisis in early January, many wouldn't have thought this would happen. But we all knew this team was capable of pulling off a great run.

Futbol Club Barcelona is back in a final, and back to win silverware.

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