Barcelona were unstoppable
Barcelona's quest for a fourth consecutive Copa del Rey title began with a finely poised round of 16 tie at Balaidos.
The 1-1 result in the first legmeant there was all to play for at the Camp Nou, but a lightning start from the hosts, with Messi the architect, soon ended Celta's hopes. A favourable result at home meant Celta had their work cut out to cause an upset, but Lionel Messi had other plans. The Argentine looked lively from the off, eager to get involved and testing Sergio Alvarez with a low strike early on. The danger signs were there, and he made no mistake when given a second chance, sweeping a half volley into the bottom corner after picking up a pocket of space on the edge of the box.
Barcelona were ahead, and they doubled their lead just two minutes later. Jordi Alba provided the assist again and Messi finished with aplomb into the bottom corner. The Catalans were sublime to watch in a manner only they know how, a vintage Barca performance with Messi wreaking havoc in the final third and Celta chasing shadows. The understanding between Alba and Messi is beyond question, with the left-back assisting the Argentine twice in as many minutes. The roles were reversed in Barcelona's third, Messi with a sublime through ball to reward Alba for all his hard work down the flank.
Messi and Luis Suarez were among those rested the first time around, Ernesto Valverde made no such omissions with their progression at stake at the Camp Nou. The Uruguayan also contributed to the breathtaking display, hammering home a suicidal back pass from Sisto. The visitors capitulated and it became a case of damage limitation as Barcelona took a slight step back before the break. It was one-way traffic. What had been billed as a tie that hung in the balance had been reduced to a one-sided affair in the blink of an eye by an irresistible Barcelona side.
Celta, who have often proved to be a stumbling block for the Catalans in the past, were rendered powerless. The second half was just a formality, with all the work in the first half leaving it all done and dusted. A brief period of Celta resistance was soon followed by another onslaught led by Luis Suarez, who looked sharp and keen on making the net bulge again. Pique, Messi and Iniesta were sensibly rested by Valverde and Dembele came on to get the crowd on their feet as he run riot with electric runs and pacey moves. Despite failing to score, the youngster's confidence was boosted as the Camp Nou sang his name and he assisted Ivan Rakitic to head home the fifth just minutes from the final whistle.
Barcelona put on a show for those present at their iconic stadium, among whom was new boy Philippe Coutinho, and a world-class performance in the first half with Messi pulling the strings was enough to seal the deal. In this form, who would bet against Barca clinching the treble?