A potentially-serious injury to Aleix Vidal marred Barcelona’s 6-0 demolition of Alaves and the Catalans moving top of La Liga for at least a few hours.
Gerard Pique joined Arda Turan and Javier Mascherano on the sidelines with an injury, having not trained since his half-time substitution against Atletico Madrid midweek.
Alaves, for their part, went into the game on a high as they set up a Copa del Rey final with the Catalans – also their first-ever appearance in the showpiece – just two days earlier and won at Camp Nou back in September.
Barca dominated the majority of the first half, with Alaves camped firmly in their own half and forced to wait it out for a breakaway opportunity.
Vidal had the afternoon’s first chance as he leapt onto a loose ball with his chest in the Alaves area, but his left-footed shot on the half-volley fizzed over the bar.
Lionel Messi then tried to force the issue when he bulldozed into the Basques’ box from a blocked shot, but his close-range finish was kept out by Pacheco.
Theo Hernandez suddenly left Lucas Digne for dead as he drove into the Barca box, with only Ter Stegen to beat, but the goalkeeper denied the full-back with his chest. Straight at the other end, Gomes fired a shot at Pacheco’s near post, which the goalkeeper pushed away.
Nonetheless, Barca made a deserved breakthrough on 37 minutes when Ivan Rakitic picked out an unmarked Vidal down the right. The full-back proceeded to drill a low cross into the penalty area, with plenty of pace and precision, for Luis Suarez to tap in.
Moments later, Pacheco spilled a cross to gift Barca another tap-in, this time for Neymar via Suarez’s cushioned header.
Alaves threatened to repeat Atleti’s second half in the Copa semi-final first leg as Christian Santos freed himself of the Barca backline when a low cross dropped directly in front of him in the penalty area, but the striker blazed over from point-blank range.
Aleksandar Katai then met a cutback in La Blaugrana’s box and was seemingly unmarked, until Digne – out of nowhere – slid the ball from under the winger’s feet.
With that, the hosts became the latest team to pay for their profligacy against Barca. Messi picked the pocket of an opposing defender, dashed into the box and drove a shot through Pacheco’s legs.
That was the first of a four-goal spurt in eight minutes as Messi plugged away at both Alaves centre-backs, before seeing a finish deflect off Alexis Ruano and into the back of Pacheco’s net.
Suarez laid off Ivan Rakitic for a powerful shot that flew past a hopeless Pacheco, which was followed by Barca playing Alaves at their own game.
Messi led the counterattack and finds Suarez, who switched to Neymar. The Brazilian’s shot was saved by Pacheco, but the rebound fell straight to the No 9 for yet another tap-in.
For the first time in long time, the visitors successfully controlled a game from start to finish, with their midfield fully functional in pressing to win the ball back and supplying MSN.
However, their afternoon ended with a knock for Samuel Umtiti, before Vidal was stretchered off after a lunge from Theo, which dislocated the full-back’s ankle.
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