FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet again in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals after goals from Alexis and Sergi Roberto finished the job for Barça with a 1-2 win in Pamplona to win the tie against Osasuna 6-1 on aggregate. However, the news that Andreu Fontás will probably miss the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee has ruined the night, our young defender has had few first chances to show his ability since his promotion to the first team and tonight he lasted only ten minutes before going down in agony after jarring his right leg badly.
As at Camp Nou from the start Osasuna pressed us high up and our defence needed to be sharp not to get caught out. Unfortunately after just ten minutes Fontás lost control slightly and in an effort to recover he landed badly on his right leg, he managed to stay on his feet to keep out the Osasuna attack but then collapsed to the floor. It was pretty obvious that it was a bad injury and at half time the confirmation came through that it was the cruciate ligament in the knee which was injured and this can be the worst injury of all for a footballer, just ask Gabi Milito.
Eric Abidal came on in his place and very soon made an even worse mistake than Fontás, giving the ball away in the area and we were first saved by Piqué heading away Lekic’s shot and then by Pinto making an excellent stop from Puñal’s rebound. We were living dangerously and had only created one goal attempt early on when Pedro cut in from the left and shooting only to see goalkeeper Riesgo tip the ball over. We failed to control the game as much as usual and the absence of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi was noticeable as players seemed to have fewer options available when in possession. Osasuna continued their pressing game without creating too much but just before half time it bore its fruit. Abidal under pressure made a poor clearance that went only as far as Sergi Roberto who was running back towards the ball, his first touch wasn’t great and with Loe on his back he was forced into playing a poor ball back that went to Lekic on the edge of the area who shot quickly and Pinto’s couldn’t keep it out despite getting a hand to the ball. Calleja had another chance before half time and basically only Osasuna’s poor finishing saved us from going further behind before the break.
I don’t know what Pep Guardiola said to the team at half time but it certainly had an effect. Soon after the restart Mascherano and then Pedro brought the ball forward before finding Adriano on the left, Adriano sent in a lowish outswinger that the defence and goalkeeper all missed allowing the ball to bounce and arrive to Alexis, who had been pretty ineffective in the first half, and the Chilean found himself with an open goal to head the ball into.
From a possible miracle of needing three goals in 45 minutes Osasauna now faced the impossible task of scoring five and their spirit dropped. The result was a much easier second half as we were given much more time on the ball. Added to this the man with three Golden Balls came on for the last 35 minutes and we began to look a bit more like our usual selves. However, Pedro then had to go off touching the back of his leg gingerly, and the reshuffle led us to see Sergio Busquets playing a more advanced midfild role and Sergi Roberto at centre forward. The youngster had only just moved into this position when Messi pushed a pass into the left of the area and Sergi Roberto fired a shot that flew just inside the far post after brushing Riesgo on the way.
With the tie over the remaining minutes were to sleep to though it was a shame Cuenca was ruled offside after a cheeky finish after Messi found an impossible gap for his pass. The away win should do us good as we need to start making it the norm for the rest of the season. There will be time to talk about Madrid, but even now I can’t help myself from trying to get inside the heads of Guardiola and Mourinho again. The two quarter final games will make it nine clasicos since last April. Too much? Not for me, not for me in the slightest.
Barça: Pinto 7, Montoya 6.5, Piqué 7, Fontás — (Abidal m13, 6), Adriano 6.5; Sergi Roberto 6, Mascherano 6.5, Thiago 7; Cuenca 7, Alexis 6 (Messi m55, 7), Pedro 7 (Busquets m67, 6.5)
Goals: m40 Lekic 1-0, m46 Alexis 1-1, m71 Sergi Roberto 1-2
Barça no cards: