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Five talking points from Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol

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2018 Copa del Rey Football Quarter Final Second Leg Jan 25th Photo by Eric Alonso/Action Plus via Getty Images

Welcome Philippe Coutinho!

Philippe Coutinho made his official Barcelona first team debut, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute for Andres Iniesta. He was welcomed with magnificently loud cheers and great applause. Once in the game, Coutinho did not try to exert too much influence on the game and picked the right pass each time. He seemed to fit perfectly into the Barcelona machine, and added some wonderful Brazilian flair in the process.

Barcelona v Espanyol - Spanish Copa del Rey Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Will Lionel Messi ever stop amazing us?

Again, just as it has been every previous week in the year, Lionel Messi continues to influence matches in every way possible. A couple of wonderful moves and a pass to Aleix Vidal set up Vidal’s wonderful assist to Luis Suarez for the opener. And a couple of minutes later, Messi’s desire to win the ball back allowed him to rip a firecracker from outside the box that was deflected and went in. Throughout the game, Messi would dummy not one or two Espanyol players, but three or four at a time. It truly is a blessing to watch the Argentinian maestro take the field each week, something we should not take for granted.

Barcelona v Espanyol - Spanish Copa del Rey Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Is Aleix Vidal starting to come round?

As mentioned above, Lionel Messi’s brilliance set up Aleix Vidal to provide Luis Suarez with the game’s opening assist. There was nothing simple about the cross that Vidal had to deliver, and he placed it right on Suarez’s forehead. Vidal impressed throughout the match and his pace now seems to be paired with more skill and a better knowledge of the Barcelona system.

Barcelona v Espanyol - Spanish Copa del Rey Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Is Valverde Barcelona’s greatest tactician as manager?

Week in and week out, Valverde continues to field a rotated starting XI that gives its best. Giving Vidal the start in the Copa del Rey was something he was rewarded for with a superb game from Vidal. He continues to put Barcelona in the best position to win each respective game and challenge for all trophies this year. Valverde’s substitutions also influenced the match greatly with the introductions of Paulinho and Coutinho providing Barcelona with greater depth defensively and a more potent attack going forward.

2018 Copa Del Rey Football Espanyol v FC Barcelona Jan 17th Photo by Pedro Salado/Action Plus via Getty Images

Here come Barca…

With Real Madrid and Atletico already knocked out, Barcelona remain the favorite out of the four teams left that include Valencia, Sevilla, and Leganes. While all three teams are certainly formidable opponents and provide their own challenges, Barcelona’s dominance so far this season should provide a stable platform for the Blaugranes to come into the game with confidence. Barcelona have won the competition a record 29 times and the road to trophy number 30 in the Copa del Rey was made a lot easier after this past knockout stage! Visca Barca