On Thursday night, Barcelona took on Ceuta in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey at the Alfonso Murube stadium. The freshly crowned Spanish Supercup champions were eager to extend their run of good form and step closer to their second title of the season.
The lineup on the night saw many changes from the weekend’s El Clasico-winning team. Inaki Pena started in goal with Eric Garcia, and Marcos Alonso deployed as the central defenders. Jordi Alba and Hector Bellerin came in at right-back.
Sergi Roberto played in his natural position of midfield alongside Franck Kessie and Pablo Torre. Robert Lewandowski was the team’s chosen striker on Thursday with Ferran Torres and Raphinha completing the lineup on the left and right flanks, respectively.
The game was off to a mixed start as both sides enjoyed small, interspersed spells of possession. The Blaugranas had the game’s first chance, but 15 minutes into the game, it seemed like Ceuta would be the happier of the two sides.
Raphinha attempted a shot from distance in the twelfth minute but it was not meant to be. Barcelona defended well with complete knowledge of how conceding against a third-division team could pan out. However, they seemed to miss a spark in the final third.
At the half-hour mark, Ceuta striker Rodri had a golden chance when he won the header at the near post in a corner. The ball hit the side netting, and the Azulgranas heaved a sigh of relief.
In the 41st minute, some magical footwork from Raphinha gave Barcelona the lead. Kessie laid off the ball to the Brazilian, who did not think twice before curling a shot in from 25 yards out.
Heading into the half-time break, Xavi’s men had one foot firmly in the quarterfinal and only required a flawless 45 minutes of football to do so.
The manager took off Pablo Torre at the beginning of the second half and replaced him with Gavi. Minutes later, the Blaugranas’ lead was doubled. After making a basic error in passing, Ceuta were punished by Franck Kessie’s interception. The Ivory Coast International sent the ball across to Lewy who would not miss from such a range. Two minutes later, Kessie almost got a goal for himself.
Ansu Fati replaced Ferran Torres at the hour mark.
The latest substitute produced a golazo to make it 3-0 in the 69th minute and bury the game. His solo run saw him single-handedly dribble past the Ceuta defence on the left wing, taking subtle turns into spaces before unleashing a strong shot beyond the reach of Tomás Mejías.
Sergio Busquets and Andreas Christensen replaced Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso, respectively in the 73rd minute.
It was soon embarrassing for Ceuta who conceded a tame fourth goal. Raphinha’s cross to Kessie returned Ivory Coast International’s favour for the first goal. Leaping directly in front of the goal, Kessie headed the ball straight past Mejias and into the goal in the 77th minute.
Robert Lewandowski made it 5-0 in the final minute of the game with a neat cutback followed by a precise shot into the bottom corner. The game ended in a dominant win for Barcelona, carrying forward their momentum from the Clasico.
With this win, Barcelona advanced to the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey. Real Madrid find it difficult to get to the same stage given their difficult clash against Villarreal, thus easing the path for the Catalans’ next title.