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FC Barcelona v Hércules (7-0): Arda scores hatrick as Blaugranes cruise into last 16 of the copa del rey.

FC Barcelona cruised into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday  after a 7-0 win (8-1 on aggregate) over Hércules at the Camp Nou., Goals from Arda Turan (3), Paco Alcacer, Lucas Digne, Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha did the damage for the Blaugranes whilst visitors were unable to grab a consolation in the night.

Barça sent the fans home excited in the final game of 2016 with goals galore including a long-awaited first official strike for the club from Paco Alcácer and a second hat-trick of the season for Arda Turan.  

 Barça did not  take their opponents for granted this time around and their attacking purpose right from the off proved it.
Enrique's men ensured there was no repeat of their first-leg scare to book a place in the last 16.
 Team News....
The defending champions fell behind in a 1-1 draw with their third-tier opponents in last month's initial match at  Alicante and Luis Enrique opted  for a more experienced line- up this time around, featuring all six of his major signings for this season.

 The first half....
 As has been the case so often this season, the Blaugranes quickly took control of possession, pinning the visitors in their own half.
However, after just four minutes, Lucas Digne found himself in an advanced position, bringing down an Ivan Rakitic cross nicely but fired well over with his weaker right foot.
To their credit,Hércules almost caught Barça off guard midway through the half as the pacey Chechu Flores was released in behind the defence but Javier Mascherano was quick enough to make up the ground and pulled off a last ditched tackle to avert the danger.

One of the best moments of the half came on 31 minutes when Denis Suárez picked up the ball from just inside his half before embarking on a fine solo run down the left-hand side, cutting onto his right foot before striking low and hard, but only finding the side netting.
The breakthrough eventually came on 37 minutes, when Arda combined brilliantly with Rafinha on the edge of the box and the Brazilian’s scuffed effort turned into a perfect assist for Digne who again found himself in a great position and this time made no mistake with favoured left foot.
Rafinha was also involved in the second which came shortly after; with an option either side of him, he picked out Arda who was hacked down and the referee pointed to the spot. With none of the front three on the field, the responsibility was passed to Ivan Rakitic, who side-footed the ball home under the keeper for 2-0 as the visitors made it to half time just the two goals down. 

The second half.....

Barcelona started the second half  in fine fettle, immediately had their third goal in the night - Arda was again involved as a similar dribble that led to the penalty ended in the Turk laying the ball off for Rafinha whose powerful drive from the edge of the box flew beyond the keeper for 3-0.
The Blaugranes could have been content to sit back at that point ,but they appeared  determined to extend their advantage and continued to pour forward when the opportunity presented itself and the visitors were powerless to resist the tide - A move that started from goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen ended with a beauty of a cross from Aleix Vidal which Arda attacked and guided into the corner of the net.

But the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Alcacer, who headed home amid suspicions of offside to go into the mid-season break with a considerable weight off his shoulders, Alcácer finally scored his first goal in Barcelona colors as Rafinha’s attempted low cross flicked up off the defender and fell kindly into the path of the Spanish striker who headed in from close range to end his goal drought.
Unfortunately for Hércules there was still time for more. On 86 minutes, another fine cross from Vidal found Alcácer unmarked and though his header was well saved, the rebound fell for Arda who could make no mistake from close range.
Arda's second came on the rebound as Buigues denied a seemingly buoyant Alcacer and the no 7 rounded-off a man of the match performance by by winning possession and curling home from the left-hand corner of the area.
 And they remained in fine voice until the final whistle 1 minute later, clearly satisfied with an excellent performance from their team.

What they said......

Luis Enrique saw his side put in a much needed performance to book their place in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday with a 7-0 win over Hércules . The manager believes it will give a major confidence boost to a number of his players and was generally pleased with the all-round display.
Here is what the boss had to say:
“We knew that they would set up similarly to the first leg, with many players behind the ball, making it difficult to find spaces. But we remained patient to continue generating (chances) through our possession.”
“It is a match that gives a boost to many of the players and the team.” 

“Against a narrow team, we wanted to make the pitch bigger, that is why we moved the full-backs higher up.”
“We moved the ball around well which led to them becoming tired. In the second half, more spaces and more chances arrived.” “I like all competitions, we are an ambitious team and we want to win everything.”

 “Denis was very good in the first half playing behind the opposition’s line of midfielders to filter out their passes. In the second he played in between the lines, he is a player that gives us a lot of options.” “I am happy with Paco Alcácer’s performance, as we all are. He is a goalscorer who helps us a lot.”

Alcácer himself also spoke after the game about  his delight to finally get off the mark for the club, saying: “It is special to score in this shirt at the Camp Nou.”
The Spanish international praised his teammates for “playing a complete game, with goals, intensity and good football”.He was thrilled with his goal but said “the most added that, for him personally, he “must work and be at 100 per cent to take advantage of the opportunities”.

Rakitic: “Hércules arrived to play a good game and they defended well for the first half hour.”
“Once the first goal arrived, things became easier.” “We all try to do our best in each game and we must continue in this way.” “I rate 2016 very positively, though it is always possible to improve.”

Digne:“I am very happy for the win and my first goal. It was the first of the game and it was an important goal.” “We knew that we had to attack and press high to get a good result.”

Rafinha:“We know that when we face a very defensive team, they would not leave us much space, nor out wide or in the middle.
 We tried to attack more from out wide in the first half, while the second we moved around more and made more attempts.”

Another game on the left wing, another great performance. This guy is not a midfielder. Barca
bought him to be a midfielder and he looks more fit to be a winger in their setup.
Problem is we have Neymar, so he won't have a chance to justify his price playing at LW. Except if
Neymar gets injured somehow and he delivers at LW in La Liga/ CL. He is worth 40m if used in his
best position.



It was a stunning  display from Barcelona. it could have ended up double figures. They blew Hercules away and have blown away most  teams this season.

There is different feeling now at camp nou unlike previous months in terms of quality of summer recruits. The expectation is back and the players are proving themselves finally.Notably, it was ultimately a one-sided affair many had predicted but is a little harsh on Hercules who claimed an impressive home draw in the first leg. Most notably immediately Digne powered in the opener and Rakitic had scored from the spot kick- following Fernando Roman's  foul on Turan- Luis Tevenet's Men were Vulnerable allowing Barca to take full advantage.
What's next

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