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Raphinha the pick as businesslike Barcelona progress in Copa del Rey

Xavi’s team got the job done

UD Barbastro v FC Barcelona - Copa Del Rey Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Businesslike, diligent and professional for the most part.

Three words that haven’t been associated with Barça in any way, shape or form over the last few performances.

Yes it was only Barbastro and there’ll always been an expectation that the Catalans will hit their opponents in the early rounds of the Copa del Rey for a cricket score.

Though Barcelona didn’t shouldn’t be held against them even if, In truth and with respect, the hosts weren’t up to much.

Normally you find that such cup ties are the minnows’ cup final, but Barbastro offered precious little in an attacking sense.

UD Barbastro v FC Barcelona - Copa Del Rey Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Moreover, their limited attempts at getting the better of Ronald Araujo et al amounted to pumping the ball skyward, allowing ample opportunities for the visitors to regain control swiftly.

On the night, one or two Barça players could really have provided more, given the standard of their direct opponent, but Raphinha certainly didn’t fall into that bracket, having one of his better games in a Barça shirt.

The threat he possessed was obvious, and the way in which the home side targeted him in the first 45 in particular emphasised the same.

They couldn’t stop him setting up the opener for Fermin, and he really should’ve had another assist to his name, Joao Felix sweeping home when well onside, only to be denied by an errant linesman’s flag.

UD Barbastro v FC Barcelona - Copa Del Rey Photo by Pedro Salado/Getty Images

The Brazilian offered so much more than that, however.

Defensively astute, he provided excellent supplementary cover when required, and as his goal early in the second half showed, he was quick to react to any balls into his area of the pitch.

For once, Xavi should have no complaints concerning his application and associative play.

Often found to be running down blind alleys or over egging the pudding, Raphinha kept it simple and it paid dividends.

The issue for both player and coach now is how to transfer that type of performance to a match where the opponent is of a much higher standard.

What’s also worth mentioning is how much more mobile the Barça front line appeared to be without Robert Lewandowski in it, before he was subbed in.

A little less structured at times it’s true, which would be punished by better sides, but with the introductions of Vitor Roque, Marc Guiu and Fermin on a more regular basis, and with a little refinement, it gives Xavi some reasonable enough options.

Now, thanks to a job reasonably well done, full focus and concentration can turn to the Spanish Super Cup.

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