Lionel Messi perfect 10, Jordi Alba 9/10 in cup rout of Celta Vigo

From ESPN - January 11, 2018

Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba showed their special connection once more, combining for the first three goals as Barcelona thrashed Celta Vigo 5-0 (6-1 on aggregate) to sail into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

The Catalans have lifted the trophy a record 29 times and have won it the last three seasons running, and they showed no willingness to let their grip on the cup slip with a sensational display at Camp Nou against a sorry Celta side, tired from their 2-2 draw with Real Madrid on Sunday.


Barcelona put in the best performance of their season, playing the football that many doubted Ernesto Valverde would be able to produce with this group of players. Philippe Coutinho, watching on from the presidential box, will only add to the fun.


It's hard to pick out negatives after a rampant display like this, but if you are being picky Ousmane Dembele would have loved to get off the mark in a Barcelona shirt but did not manage it, and young forward Jose Arnaiz's goal-scoring streak in the cup also came to an end.

Manager rating out of 10

8 --Valverde picked a strong side to ensure progress in the cup, bringing off key players Gerard Pique, Messi and Andres Iniesta to keep them fresh for Sunday's trip to face Real Sociedad at Anoeta. He gave Dembele and Arnaiz minutes in the second half with both of them anxious to show what they can do.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Jasper Cillessen, 6 -- One of the quietest nights of the Dutchman's career. Did well in the first half to prevent a ball going out for a corner, which was as taxing as his evening got.

DF Nelson Semedo, 7 -- Although Sergi Roberto has usurped him at right-back in the big games, Semedo has been working on his game and has shown a marked improvement of late. Showed his impressive pace to get back early on and stop Iago Aspas from getting in, while he contributed well going forward too.

DF Javier Mascherano, 6 -- The Argentine was tidy at the back, showing just why Barcelona have depended on him during this decade, even though many moons ago he used to play in midfield. This may be his last game at Camp Nou, pending a possible move to the Chinese Super League, and he will be missed by the Barcelona fans who chanted his name at various stages.

DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Only featured in the first half as Valverde took him off to keep him fit for Sunday's game in San Sebastian. He had little to do and what little there was, he did with his usual composure.


Continue reading at ESPN »