Barcelona made easy work of the Segunda Division B side Real Murcia, earning a place in the Round of 16 with a dominating 5-0 win in the second leg and an aggregate win of 8-0. Five different scorers found the net for the Catalans as Paco Alcacer, Gerard Pique, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez and Jose Arnaiz all scored for Barcelona.
As soon as he match-squad was released it was evident that Ernesto Valverde was going to rotate heavily. Only a couple of first-team regulars started the match, namely Nelson Semedo and Pique, while role players like Gerard Deulofeu, Lucas Digne and Denis also started. Alcacer was also in the starting XI, hoping to impress Valverde. Two members of the Barcelona B team also took part from the opening whistle, Carles Alena and Oriol Busquets, the latter of which was making his senior debut.
To nobody’s surprise, Barcelona dominated from the get-go. While there was little urgency in Barcelona’s play, several players were looking to make an impression on the manager. Even though the tie was all but decided, Barcelona were looking to score a quick goal or two to make the remainder of the game a mere formality.
And the Catalans were indeed quick to find the back of the net, with Alcacer, again, scoring for Barcelona, likely putting more pressure on Luis Suarez. Denis and Aleix Vidal were combing on the left side of the Murcia penalty area. But the visitors were able to clear the ball away from Vidal, however, the clearance proved a perfect assist for Alcacer who made no mistake. Moments later, Barcelona were looking to double their lead, as Semedo and Vidal played a one-two on the right wing, with the former then providing a perfect ball to the far post to the wide open Deulofeu. The young winger, however, missed the ball completely and the chance went begging.
Barcelona continued to attack, but with the visitors showing very little intent of going forward, space in attack was at times difficulty to come by. And with the winner decided, there was no need to force the issue, so while Barcelona’s domination was undeniable, with possession hovering in the high 70s, scoring chances were few and far between. The clock continued to inch closer to the 45 minute mark and the halftime whistle, and with very few breaks in play the referee was quick to send the two sides for some rest.
The second half was similar to the first, with Barcelona attacking from the start, though this time around with some more conviction. Just ten minutes after the restart Barcelona appeared to have doubled their lead with Alena finding Deulofeu in the area, but after a slight redirection off a Murcia defender the ball clanged off the post.
The very next minutes though, Barcelona were up by two. The Catalans launched another good looking attack down the right flank, with Vidal making the run before squaring the ball into the danger area where Pique was left with a simple tap in finish. As soon as Pique ended celebrating he was substituted off the pitch as B-teamer David Costas replaced him.
Four minute later, Barcelona launched another strong attack down the right wing, with Alcacer and Vidal springing Semedo on the run. Semedo sent a perfect cross to the middle where Vidal headed the ball on target to make it three. Valverde completed his remaining two substitutions in the 62nd minute with Sergi Roberto returning from injury to replace Busquets while Semedo made way for another Barcelona B player, Arnaiz.
Barcelona continued to attack, with the majority of the Catalans good looking attacks coming down the right side where Vidal, and Semedo earlier, were combining excellently with Alena and Alcacer. But not to be outdone by the right side, in the 74th minute the left side of the Barcelona formation showed they can be deadly as well. Denis and Roberto played a stunning one-two which allowed the former to get behind the defense for a one-on-one with Alex Santome, and Denis made no mistake, beating the visiting goalkeeper just inside the far post.
Just five minutes later the Manita was complete. Murcia went forward on a rare attack and Barcelona were quick to punish them on the counter. Vidal intercepted the ball in Barcelona’s area and immediately started the counter with a long run. Deep in Murcia’s third he found Denis who extended the play further to the left with a lovely back-heel to Arnaiz. The youngster wasted no time and powered a shot to the far post to score his second Barcelona goal in two games.
Barcelona continued to attack, where Deulofeu was trying to improve the impression he left as some poor choices and some poor control left much to be desired. He came very close to doing so in the dying moments of the game when he showcased some of his stunning dribbling repertoire, but was later on only just denied by Santome.
With the final whistle coming after two minutes of added time, Barcelona secured a spot in the next round of the competition. Who they will face there remains to be seen, but there will be little time to rest as in just three days Barcelona host Celta Vigo.