Barcelona put on a paradox of a performance with the 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla, with questions over how a team so good could be so bad just ten days before
Barça’s agenda was clear: not just winning, but crushing the opposition.
The Copa del Rey final was absolute domination from beginning to end, as Barcelona severely punished Sevilla in a game where it was Barça’s squad who relentlessly pursued both their fourth final in a row and doing it in a triumphant fashion, answering any criticism coming their way after their disgraceful (and unexpected) knockout in the Champions League against Roma. However, the Sevillistas performed disappointingly and did made the job a lot easier for Valverde’s men,
Fans must ask themselves these questions in order to understand just how on earth could a team who destroyed a Champions League quarter-finalist with flair and style be so absolutely hapless ten days earlier in their visit to Rome with a 4-1 advantage from the first-leg.
Did overconfidence doom them? Was physical fatigue the main cause? Did they underestimate the opposition? Or was it simply a bad day at the office?
Regardless of the real answer, the fact is that Barça’s players and Ernesto Valverde have been heavily criticized ever since. And, therefore, their 5-0 speaks as some sort of statement on their behalf. They wanted to make a point.
And they did it efficiently and ruthlessly: the first fifteen minutes were absolutely brilliant from a side which had all their top players in the line-up, with the only addition of Jasper Cillessen. In fact, the goalkeeper played a key role in the opening goal, as his spectacularly accurate long-range pass found Philippe Coutinho, whose run on the wing ended in a beautiful assist for Luis Suarez.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 21, 2018
The opening goal was only the prologue for a first half of absolute domination by Barça, while Sevilla were helpless in creating chances and freeing themselves from the Blaugrana’s tight grip, both possession-wise (66% for the Culés) and in chances generated. Andrés Iniesta’s masterclass continued as he found Alba on the wing, and his back-heel pass found Leo Messi in the usual spot he always takes advantage of to decimate any defence.
Messi wasn’t the star for once: it was obvious that Iniesta, in what will most likely be his last final with Barça’s shirt, was keen to run the show. Motivated and inspired, the Albacete-born midfielder had a game for the ages.
Vincenzo Montella was outsmarted and overpowered on his bench, trapped within Barça’s midfield maze, with no answers at hand. Iniesta and his associates methodically proceeded to close the game in the second-half as stylistically as possible. Andrés himself was the one to score the fourth, dribbling past David Soria and calmly finishing with his left foot. The celebration, with everyone absolutely ecstatic, confirmed that everyone was wishing for Iniesta to come out on top in his last big night.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 22, 2018
There was even time for Messi, the usual penalty-taker, to gift Paulinho with the closing 5-0 after the Brazilian had tried several times throughout the game to score a goal.
Not a single Barça fan will be able to forget that infamous night at Roma in the short-term, but Saturday’s showcase was as good as an apology as they might get from their team. Even Valverde’s face felt like one of a vindicated man; he will, at the end of the day, be the coach to win a ‘Doblete’ in his first season in the job.
Too bad that the closing ceremony was lackluster and anticlimactic, with Iniesta running through the inner corridors of the Wanda Metropolitano on his own to fetch the trophy from the executive box.
Luckily, though, the whole stadium was on its feet minutes before, clapping and delivering one last homage to the legendary midfielder. Andrés might leave Barça in a few weeks, but he had to deliver one final masterclass to make everyone realize just how much we will miss him once he departs for China.