Copa del Rey review: Deportivo Alavés 0, FC Barcelona 3, Or, A Little TreatBy: Ade C. | October 31st, 2012
Last night’s match was a relatively painless affair. On paper they look easy, but the early rounds of the domestic cups can be treacherous ground for big teams (just ask Arsenal… or remember Real Madrid’s Alcorconazo) and I’m glad Barça got away with a good result and no injuries.
With not much of a squad to choose from, Tito came up with a surprisingly strong starting XI: Pinto, Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Montoya, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Iniesta, Villa, Cesc and Alexis. Because rest is for the weak, obviously. And because JDS couldn’t get a start if a leprosy epidemic decimated the first team.
In the absence of Jordi ‘The Killer Squirrel’ Alba, Tito placed Montoya on the left and returned the right flank to Dani Alves with… mixed results. On the one hand, watching Montoya seems to have taught Dani how to cross into the box (as opposed to how to cross into the parking lot, the next town over, or Pluto’s orbit), but our wayward Brazilian also seemed tackle-happy, undisciplined positionally (yes, more than he usually is) and petulant when talking to the ref. A season and a half ago, I would have told you that the team would lose more than we could afford by letting Dani go, but now… now I’m not so sure.
On the bright side, having played as RB and LB means that Montoya is now ready to be transformed into a CB when we run out of midfielders to draft into that position!
In spite of the strong starting XI, Barça started sluggishly and left the initiative to Alavés. The blaugrana danger, when it came, was in the form of Dani’s improved crosses and Alexis‘ appalling shots that followed. It wasn’t until the team remembered that Villa existed -and Iniesta remembered that not only was he playing, but he was the captain for the night- that the first goal arrived.
Having scored, Barça remembered who they were and that they were supposed to win the match, and the second half was considerably livelier. To begin with, Iniesta scored a golazo worthy of a much bigger occasion:
Then, Tito started working his substitution magic, putting Song in for Busquets, Tello in for Villa (which, honestly… what does Guaje need to do to get a full 90 minutes, if scoring every two shots isn’t enough?) and finally, finally giving a few minutes to the long-suffering Jonathan Dos Santos (in for Iniesta). Alavés also made a few changes, namely invoking the spirit of Javi Varas into their goalkeeper, who had some really excellent saves in the last few minutes of the match.
But not all the inspiration in the world is going to save you when Cesc is determined to prove us wrong: to one of those uncharacteristically precise Dani Alves crosses, Mr Bedhead did what Alexis couldn’t and scored the third through a header.
(goal videos thanks to 101greatgoals)
Ka-ching! A win, no injuries, and good playing time for (some of) the players who needed it. Not bad for a Tuesday night!
The match wasn’t exciting enough to deserve full player ratings (Kage knows I’d just give Busquets an automatic 12), so let me just give a few honourable mentions: Bartra did well at CB, Sergi Roberto did OK in the midfield, and Montoya was his usal efficient self, even in the wrong flank. Cesc had another good match, Villa was excellent in the time he got, and Iniesta had flashes of brilliance amidst the general drabness of the match. I’m shaking my head at Dani Alves, though, in spite of his good crosses; I’m afraid it’s an attitude problem more than one of form…
In any case, Barça now have an excellent advantage for the return leg, which will be played at the Camp Nou at the end of November. For now, we return our sights to La Liga, and Celta de Vigo this weekend… in the meanwhile, stay in touch by following us on Twitter!
And because it’s Hallowe’en, we leave you with this gem, the scary Barca Toons in one of their usual nonsensical adventures!
Some Related Barcelona Posts:
- Copa Del Rey Preview: Alavés vs Barça
- Deportivo La Coruna 4 – 5 FC Barcelona: Boom Goes the Dynamite