Barça celebrate one of six goals in a tremendous performance in the Basque Country

Barça avenged a 2-1 defeat to Alavés at the Camp Nou earlier this season with a clinical performance against the same club on Saturday afternoon. The Catalans ran riot with six goals against a side that will now be feeling a whole lot less confident about their chances in the Copa del Rey Final.

But the party atmosphere in the Barça camp turned to one of deep concern in the final minutes when Aleix Vidal suffered a dreadful-looking injury to his right ankle just when he was enjoying the finest moments of his young career.

Barça get there in the end

The game became livelier as the first half progressed. Territorially, it all belonged to Barça, but Alavés are experts at lapping up pressure and, for a good while, it seemed Lady Luck might be smiling in the home side’s direction.

Other than a coast-to-coast charge from Theo Hernández that Ter Stegen dealt with brilliantly, the Catalans had all the chances. But the deadlock was not broken until 38 minutes had elapsed.

It was a lesson in quick-touch brilliance from Barcelona. Ivan Rakitic slipped the ball wide to Vidal, and the right-back was just as quick to whip it back it back in for Luis Suárez to pump home in the manner of the great predator of the area that he is.

The Mendizorroza Stadium was stunned. And just three minutes later the sell-out home crowd would be stunned again. Another series of rapid touches ended with Suárez and home keeper Fernando Pacheco contesting a high ball and the latter palming it onto the Uruguayan’s brow. What will technically go down as an assist rebounded into the path of Neymar Jr, and the Brazilian made it two.

Four goals in eight minutes

No sooner was the second half under way than Christian Santos pounded a sitter over the bar. That may have served as a warning to Barça – this game wasn’t over yet. But it pretty much was after 59 minutes, when Leo Messi caught Carlos Vigaray napping on the edge of the Alavés area and breezed through unchallenged to knock in Barça’s third. Game over.

But Barça had handfuls more salt to rub into the home side’s wounds. Four minutes later, Suárez picked out Messi and, despite being sandwiched between two defenders, the Argentinian still powered through. The only downside is that the ball ended up bounding in off Alexis Ruano’s leg. That one will have to go down in the record-book as an own goal.

Barça’s superiority was getting embarrassing. A back-heel from Suárez landed at the feet of Rakitic, and the Croatian added his name to the scoresheet. A matter of seconds after that, and the Uruguayan was latching onto the rebound off a Neymar Jr strike to score his second.

For those still able to keep count, that was Barça’s sixth.

Vidal injury

But the Barça party then took a nasty turn for the worse. With five minutes to go, Aleix Vidal, one of Barça’s finest players, not just today, but of 2017, suffered a horrific looking right-ankle injury and was stretchered off in tears. We’ll need to wait for the official verdict from the team doctors, but the images suggest that this could be a very serious one indeed.

A wonderful win, yes, but when the referee’s whistle blew, it was only Aleix Vidal that was on everyone’s minds. Let’s all hope for a rapid recovery.

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