Barcelona are unofficially qualified for the 2016 Copa del Rey Final with a spectacular 7-0 rout of Valencia in the first leg of the Spanish Cup semi-finals. With two hat-tricks from Luis Suárez (who got four goals) and Lionel Messi, the Blaugranes utterly dominated Gary Neville's hopeless side en route to a fantastic performance and an even better result.
|Shots on Target||10||1|
Coach Luis Enrique once again smartly rotated his squad, giving a day off to Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano and Ivan Rakitic, who saw a lot of minutes in the January marathon and got a deserved rest on Wednesday night. Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, coming off a great debut month, started in this one, with the Turkish in the midfield alongside captain Andrés Iniesta and Busquets. The 'MSN' trio started as expected, with Ter Stegen, Piqué, Mathieu and Jordi Alba completing the side.
Gary Neville, under pressure due to his horrible league form, came to the Camp Nou with a surprising, ultra-defensive lineup with six defenders. Reserve full-backs João Cancelo and Guilherme Siqueira lined up as wingers, but were really defensive players out wide to deal with the Blaugrana full-backs overlapping. With a trio of defensive midfielders in the middle, Valencia looked set to park a bus and turn the match into a low-scoring affair.
It was anything but that. From the opening whistle, Barça completely dominated the action, finding spaces on the visitors' defense and using quick passes and player movement to break down the defense. They also used quick counter-attacks, and that led the first goal. A recovery from Arda Turan fell to Neymar, who carried the ball until he found a perfect pass to Luis Suárez, who scored the opener with a great cross shot to the bottom corner.
Just five minutes later, a dominating Barça created a great goal. Sergio Busquets played a beautiful ball over the top to pick up a smart run by Aleix Vidal, who quickly found Suárez for the Uruguayan's second goal of the night with a powerful finish.
With a lightning quick two-goal lead, the hosts controlled the game even more, keeping possession of the ball and prohibiting Valencia of creating any chances. Near the half-hour mark, a fantastic passing sequence ended with a Neymar backheel pass, a Suárez dummy and a perfect ball to Messi, who smartly finished to score the third.
As Gary Neville's men slowly attempted to go forward in search of an away goal to have any chances in the tie, more spaces opened up, and the counter-attacking side of Luis Enrique's team came to light. A pass from the back found Luis Suárez on the left flank, the Pistolero played a great cross to Messi, and the Argentinean almost score the fourth, hitting the crossbar instead.
Seconds before halftime, Sergio Busquets played a ridiculous long pass to Leo, who was fouled by Shkodran Mustafi inside the box. The German defender was sent off, and Neymar Jr. stepped to the spot for the penalty kick. The Brazilian's shot hit the post, and a potential five-goal lead was stuck at three at halftime. Damned posts and bars!
Coming out of the tunnel for the second half, Valencia were expected to attack in search of a goal that would bring them back. They did for a few minutes, but as soon as the Blaugrana had the ball in dangerous areas, the visitors instantly camped in front of the box, desperate to avoid goals.
They couldn't. Less than 15 minutes in, Arda Turan passed the ball to Suárez, who quickly found Messi with a little flick, and the world's best player scored his signature goal, running through the box and the opposing defenders before slotting the ball to the corner away from the keeper. 4-0 Barça.
The Blaugrana were far from finished, however. Smelling blood, the 'MSN' trio came quickly on a fast break, and after an errant cross from Neymar, Messi tracked the ball down, stole it from Dani Parejo, got himself into a striking position and fired a bomb to the near corner before goalkeeper Mathew Ryan could even move. Hat-trick for Leo Messi, 5-0 to the good.
As the final minutes came and Enrique gave good minutes of rest to Iniesta, Piqué and Alba, the game looked finished. But there was still time to break the defense down and get some more goals. A beautiful pass by Messi put Adriano in a perfect position to cross, and the Brazilian didn't disappoint, lobbing a great ball to Suárez, who got his own hat-trick.
This was not over, however. With four minutes left, Arda Turan played a great through ball past three defenders to Suárez, who saw an opening and shot a rocket to the near corner for his fourth (!!!!) of the match and the seventh for Barça.
There could have been more as Messi and Suárez desperately tried to give Neymar, the only 'MSN' member not to score on Wednesday, a goal of his own. It didn't come, however. But 7-0 is a good enough score, if you ask me.
It was really a perfect evening, with a fantastic result, no injuries and nice rest for key players. Up next, a tough trip to Valéncia for a La Liga encounter with Levante, who have surprised a few teams this season. Until then, we can definitely celebrate one of the best performances the Camp Nou has ever seen.
|Roll Call Info|
|Commenter list||Abhiforbarca, Adiyat Nurkautsar, AllAboutStyle, Anders Thomassen, AngusLB, Anirudh_Kul, Ashraf Arefin, AzBlaug, BDBarca, BarcaBarca, BarcaGH, BarcaLifer, Barca_24, Cule4life, Delano Heerkens, FCBMSN, GabTTT, Houssam Lakis, JA Besche, JordanBelfort, KiwiBarca, MayteeA, NamesTroyResideInTheDMV, Petter Premberg, Piquénbauer, Piyush_, SUMYTH90, Sairos, Sawban Busquets :D, ShantanuC, Som-i-Serem, Steven Cordero, TheGodfather21, Trifitology, VarmaFCB, ash_kumar, craig00000, dewoul, el_uruguayo, feeya7, footballfordoze, godnkls, gorgton, henderick.mitchell, lefty808, mightyobie, no.imagination90, saltylures, smatiisc, syredeathtrooper, totaalvoetbal, vireyda|
|8||Sawban Busquets :D||37|