It’s fair to say Barcelona have enjoyed the Copa del Rey in recent years, after all they have won it for the past three seasons and Tuesday night’s win over Murcia brought more optimism for the Blaugrana.
Ernesto Valverde handed Barcelona B players Carles Alena and Jose Arnaiz starts and was rewarded with highly promising performances from both players.
Alena looked completely at home in the Barca midfield and was bright throughout the game. If midfield is still an issue for Valverde, and it surely is, he could do worse than consider Alena this season.
The Barca coach had talked up Arnaiz before the game and the 22-year-old had a steady first half, offering just a glimpse of his talents.
However, he made his mark in truly superb style after the break, smashing home a debut goal and Barcelona’s third of the night, to secure the victory.
There were also a few flashes of real talent in between, a superb turn in the box took out two defenders before he was denied by the goalkeeper.
Of course this all comes with the proviso that Barca were only playing Murcia, but even so, the duo were handed their chance, and they did not let their boss down.
In between Paco Alcacer proved a point. The striker has struggled to even make Valverde’s squad in recent weeks but was in from the start and opened the scoring with a strong header just before the break.
It’s been a difficult season for Alcacer, with the rumour mill talking up a move away in January, and it really looked a few weeks ago as if he was simply not in Valverde’s plans at all.
However, this is a goal that could well help change the coach’s mind. Luis Suarez is woefully out of form – might Alcacer take his place? It still seems unlikely, but he should at least find himself in the squad.
It was also a good night for Deulofeu who managed an assist and a goal for the first time for Barca, according to Opta. Of course you would expect Deulofeu to shine against Murcia, but he took responsibility, wanted the ball and was Barca’s biggest threat.
And let’s not forget Valverde too, he got his team selection spot on and was rewarded with yet another victory and a clean sheet. Next up the small matter of a trip back to San Mames to face former side Athletic Bilbao.