Barcelona and Espanyol renewed hostilities in a much tamer affair on Wednesday evening, with the Catalan giants winning 2-0 away at their local rivals to advance 6-1 in the Copa del Rey.
This was the third meeting between the two city rivals in the last eleven days, and with the last two matches boiling over, this fixture had the potential to explode—not least because this midweek contest at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat had a spot on the quarter-finals at stake.
It was, once again, recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi who made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute when he demonstrated his superb agility with an excellent swivel before threading a through-ball to the onrushing Munir.
The youngster made little mistake when handed such a golden opportunity, opening his body before finishing past Francesco Bardi.
Barcelona played a strong XI, but didn’t have the kind of zip and verve that characterised their recent performances, as Luis Enrique attempted to bed in some of his new signings.
Two of them, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, combined for the second, linking up superbly before playing in Munir, who tapped home late on.
Espanyol arguably enjoyed the better of the chances in the second period, and while Messi’s attempts to surge forward were often met with some wholesome defending, the true star was Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who repeatedly foiled the home side and, notably, former Manchester City striker Felipe Caidedo.
Here are the Barcelona Player Ratings vs. Espanyol:
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 9
Dani Alves: 7.5
Javier Mascherano: 8
Jeremy Mathieu: 7.5
Thomas Vermaelen: 7
Aleix Vidal: 8
Arda Turan: 8
Ivan Rakitic: 8.5
Lionel Messi: 9
Sergi Roberto: 7.5
Munir El-Haddadi: 8
Marc Bartra: 6.5