After away defeat to David Moyes’ new side Real Sociedadin their last match, when Luis Enrique caused a storm by dropping both Neymarand Lionel Messi, it was back to their more recognisable form for Barcelonayesterday with a 5-0 thrashing of Elche in the last 16 of the Spanish cup or asthe locals call it the Copa del Rey.

With rumours abounding that their diminutive genius Messimay be considering a move to the English Premier League, amid a reported riftwith the boss, Enrique, it was time for the Catalan giants to do their talkingout on the pitch and they found their opposition more than once far tooaccommodating.

It could and no doubt should have been more, as the massivelyassembled frontline of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez attacked their opponents’rearguard seemingly at will and the Elche loanee keeper, the Pole PrzemyslawTyton made several decent saves that kept the count down. It took them all ofthirty-five minutes to break the deadlock, but from then on there was only onewinner.

Three nil in front by half-time through goals from eachof the triumvirate (including a penalty for Messi), they added two more at acanter in the second, with all five goals coming in an exciting twenty-fiveminutes of play.

Messi demonstrated that the off-field rumblings were noteffecting his abilities on the pitch as he became provider to set up Jordi Albafor the fourth. Then the Brazilian Neymar waded in to establish his credentialswith a powerful shot for the fifth that glanced in off the underside of the bar.Barcelona throttled back with the result a formality to conserve their energiesno doubt for this weekend’s impending league fixture.

There is still the second leg to come of the tie next Thursday,but it seems a forlorn hope that Elche will be much better then to gain anycomfort from their star-studded victors last night, although Barca may decideto rest one or two of their main players should they so wish.

More intriguing is the tie that should lie in store forBarca after they complete their responsibilities in the return leg, with thedraw having presented them with the mouthwatering prospect of facing the winnerfrom Atletico and Real Madrid in the quarter-finals. Atletico have a two goaladvantage so have at least one foot in the next round, but don’t count Real outjust yet if Ronaldo and Bale can hit their stride in the home game at the Bernabeu.Before that though, there is a possible foretaste of what is to come asBarcelona host Atletico in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Their last meeting wasat the end of last season when Atletico clinched the title by drawing at theNou Camp.

Outside observers ofthe Spanish cup competition may rightly question the standard of the matchesthat are being played, with one or two exceptions such as the Madrid derby thenight before, but such a one-sided game as Barcelona played out against Elchewill hardly provide any evidence to the contrary. It was still a step up fromBarca’s previous round though where they defeated Huesca 12-1 onaggregate.
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