Lionel Messi and Clement Lenglet were on song as Barcelona breezed past Leganes to progress to the Copa Del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday.
Barcelona were off to a blistering start, as Antoine Griezmann converted from Nelson Semedo’s deft cut-back. Soon after, Griezmann was denied as second due to offside, but Barcelona were two to the good midway through the first half, as Clement Lenglet nodded in from Lionel Messi’s corner.
Messi soon joined the party, scoring the third goal just before the hour mark when his effort took a heavy deflection. Arthur then scored the fourth minutes after being introduced before Messi closed off the win with a late strike. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Quique Setien’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
It was not a straightforward outing by any means for ter Stegen, as Leganes did carry some threat. The Barcelona no. 1 though, only had regulation saves to make on the night, which he did without much of a fuss. The second half was far more comfortable for the German, who was more of a spectator in the final 45 minutes.
Nelson Semedo: 8/10
Fine showing by Semedo, who would believed he has boosted his chances of becoming a regular. A solid start to the game saw him overlap Lionel Messi smartly and latch on to the Barcelona captain’s through ball before squaring the ball to Antoine Griezmann. At the back, he remained alert and one notable moment saw him stop a Leganes attack in its tracks. Super effort.
Clement Lenglet: 9/10
A statement performance by Lenglet, who ought to have moved ahead of Samuel Umtiti in the pecking order. Solid at the back, the Frenchman was rarely troubled bar the odd occasion and was assured while building up play. The moment of the night for him, though, was when he looped in a header into the net from Messi’s corner for Barcelona’s second goal of the night.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
Alongside Lenglet, Pique forged a strong partnership and was rarely given any jittery moments on the night. Was beaten in the air a couple of times, but other than that, he was relatively untroubled. In a personal duel with Martin Braithwaite, Pique prevailed and was composed when linking up with those in front of him.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Back into the traditional left-back slot, Alba posed a constant threat down the left flank and linked up well with Ansu Fati. His connection with Messi was on display at times as well while at the back, he was hardly called into action. A decent showing.
Arturo Vidal: 7/10
A game of hits and misses for Vidal, although the hits far outweighed the misses. Typically showed the grit that makes him such a difficult customer to deal with in the middle of the park and his exchanges with Messi were delightful. On the downside, he lost the ball a few too many times, but on the whole, he put a shift in, which was a huge positive.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
A solid effort by Busquets, who did well to exercise control on the game. Set a quick tempo and recycled the ball smartly by driving Barcelona forward in an efficient manner. At times, he was a bit too overzealous, which saw him lose possession, but all in all, it was a strong showing by the veteran, who looked good in the defensive phase as well.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
A bit of a whimper for de Jong, who was not quite at his best on the night. While he did provide the assist for one of Messi’s goal with a delightful pass, the Dutchman struggled to be incisive with his exchanges. The constant shuffling of positions is not helping him.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
Quite easily the game changer for Barcelona on the night. Messi was in his elements, shutting off all the talks of him being out of form. The Barcelona captain ran the show on Thursday, toying with the Leganes defenders. While it was nearly a perfect evening for Messi, the fact that he lost the ball a few times docked him a point. Otherwise, he was involved in each goal that Barcelona scored.
Messi first laid the ball for Semedo, who assisted Griezmann. He then delivered the corner from which Lenglet scored. His shot rebounded towards Arthur, who scored the fourth and Messi scored the remaining two goals.
Lionel Messi is the first player in history to win 500 games all competitions with a Spanish side.
710 games. 622 goals. 1 club. pic.twitter.com/TgAqORen2t
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 30, 2020
With those strikes he brought up 500 goals in domestic competitions and the result meant Messi now has 500 wins for Barcelona, thereby becoming the first player in Spanish football history to win 500 games .
Antoine Griezmann: 8/10
Starting as the sole striker for the first time since Suarez was sidelined, Griezmann was on song. He started the game on the best possible note, calmly finishing from Semedo’s low pass. Griezmann was then denied a second just a while later. Thereafter, the Frenchman continued posing a threat but never got out of second gear, with the result pretty much secured.
Ansu Fati: 6/10
A bundle of energy, Fati posed a great deal of threat down the left flank. The change in his position did bring out the best in him to some extent as he looked much more at home in this role. However, the end product still seems to be missing, although the inconsistency is understandable at his age. The huge positive for him is that he is enjoying the confidence of Setien.
Junior Firpo: 6/10
On for Alba to allow his fellow full-back a breather, Firpo helped see the game out and kept things simple, with Barcelona’s progression to the quarter-finals pretty much secured by the time he was introduced.
Ivan Rakitic: 7/10
A decent cameo off the bench from Rakitic, who set Messi up for his second with a peach of a pass through the lines.
Another appearance off the bench for Arthur, who this time found the back of the net with the easiest of tap-ins. Remains to be seen if he returns to the starting lineup now.