Barcelona are safely through to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals and there was no drama against a lower level side this time as the Catalans dominated AD Ceuta from the Third Division and won 5-0 at the Alfonso Murube Stadium on Thursday night’s Round of 16 tie. The Catalans made a slow start but were never tested by the hosts, and applied enough pressure in the second half to get the goals and cruise to the next round.
The first 30 minutes of the game were, to put it nicely, straight trash. Ceuta were very clearly a team lacking any real talent and were playing on pure adrenaline and intensity, trying to move the ball up the pitch and create chances on crosses and set pieces while defending as hard as they could to not give Barça any spaces.
Barça on the other hand were playing on first gear, moving the ball very slowly with static players unwilling to make runs in behind the Ceuta defense. The pace was horribly slow, and neither team came close to scoring a goal early on.
As we very slowly approached halftime, however, Barça finally showed some signs of life in attack and began threatening with runs in behind and longer passes to catch Ceuta’s defense out of position. The Blaugrana were poor in the final third, with poor touches and bad decisions that killed promising moves, but they began looking like a team ready to score.
And with four minutes left in the half, they did through the only player who actively tried something in the game: Raphinha received a pass at the edge of the box, worked the ball to his left foot and fired a gorgeous curling shot into the bottom corner to give Barça the lead.
At halftime, a slow and unimaginative Barça side finally had decided to push the pace and got a goal in the dying moments, and if they chose to play just a little bit better in the second half they could kill the game off early on.
Barça made the perfect start to the second half with an early goal to double their lead: Franck Kessie won the ball high up the pitch as Ceuta tried to play out from the back and found Robert Lewandowski all alone inside the box and the Pole put the ball through the legs of the keeper to make it 2-0.
Ceuta had absolutely nothing to lose and started sending more bodies forward looking for an unlikely goal that would get them back in the game, but that left them very open and vulnerable to the counter attack.
It took a while but Barça finally took advantage of the extra space and killed the game off: Jordi Alba found Ansu Fati all alone on the left wing and the substitute cut inside on his right foot and found the bottom corner to make it three and finish the job with 20 minutes to go.
The final minutes were about controlling the game and keeping a clean sheet, but there was still time for another goal as Raphinha put in a perfect cross from the right and Franck Kessie arrived in the box to head home the fourth and complete his excellent night.
With the win in the bag there was still time for a first team debut as under-19 star Ángel Alarcón came on with 10 minutes to go. Alarcón didn’t do much but Barça added a fifth with another excellent finish from Lewandowski, and the final whistle came to send Barça to the next round.
Championship teams dominate bad ones. Barça did just that and it’s very good to see.
Ceuta: Mejías; García, Gutiérrez, Lafarge (Danese 68’), Alfonso; Cuevas (García 57’), Reina, López (Iglesias 57’); Ahmed (Redondo 57’), Ríos (Casais 78’), González
Barcelona: Peña; Bellerín, Eric, Alonso (Christensen 73’), Alba; Kessie, Roberto (Busquets 73’), Torre (Gavi 46’); Raphinha (Alarcón 80’), Lewandowski, Ferran (Fati 60’)
Goals: Raphinha (41’), Lewandowski (50’, 90’), Fati (70’)