Those who thought Barcelona were in serious trouble as they headed into what could have been a very tough Copa del Rey match on Wednesday against Deportivo were rewarded with a ridiculous 8-0 triumph.
Be clear: Barcelona had to win this match.
Out of Champions League and with the title run shaking like a California fault line, if Barcelona lost this match it could have been disastrous for everyone—a final straw in morale.
As the Guardian put it, when “the entire of Europe is writing you off, your two main rivals are snapping at your heels like sharks and you’re facing a total collapse in the league, you may as well go out and beat Deportivo 8-0 to let everyone know quite how wrong they are.”
Was everyone wrong, though, or did Depor err hugely and fail to mark Luis Suarez?
Suarez opened the sheet early on just after ten minutes, followed by another at minute 24. Ivan Rakitic proved he’s not entirely useless with one two minutes into the second half, and then Suarez, who clearly wasn’t being watched by Depor—who were doing a lot of watching and little playing, as it would turn out—snuck another one in at minute 53, followed by a fourth in the 64th.
Lionel Messi, who was awakened from his spring slumber by the sound of all the goals, netted one at minute 73, followed by Marc Bartra for old times’ sake at minute 79.
Neymar capped it all off with one in the 81st minute.
If you were hoping for a solid return to the form Barcelona has enjoyed most of the season, however, with their recent woes a mere blip in their collective fitness, well—be cautious. It’s unlikely that the squad got it together and did a jig of cohesion, despite the spectacular score. Rather, as one of our writers here at The Stoppage Time says, even though there were eight of them, “none of the goals [today] were spectacular.”
Not marking Suarez would be Depor’s downfall, but to simply write it off as a failure to mark the Uruguay striker is too easy. Suarez is nothing if not up for a challenge, be it to restore his image in the eyes of the entire world or show everyone that he can, in fact, remain incredibly dangerous in goal. Three assists and a hat-trick are clear proof of that.
But this was the Copa.
Barcelona must win their league match on Saturday against Sporting (and every match from there on out with Atletico and Real Madrid on their heels) from the Camp Nou.
I’ll be there live—so stay right here at The Stoppage Time for in-person reports following the match.