Two goals from Leo Messi including a brilliant solo effort for his second gave Barça a 0-2 win over Getafe on the night, an aggregate win of 6-0 and the prize of a quarter-final tie against Levante with the away game first next Wednesday 22 and the return game at Camp Nou on Wednesday 29. The win came at a price with Neymar Jr hobbling off in the first half with an ankle injury that first reports suggest will see him sidelined for around three weeks. Tomorrow the Brazilian will have more tests with the obvious objective being to have him fit to play Manchester City in the Champions League on February 18.
Tata Martino made nine changes to the side that started at Atlético Madrid on Saturday with only Dani Alves, who is suspended for next Sunday’s game at Levante, and Cesc Fabregas maintaining their places. Martino decided that both Messi and Neymar would benefit from starting the match and Barça lined-up with Pinto, Alves, Bartra, Puyol, Adriano, Sergi Roberto, Song, Fàbregas, Tello, Messi and Neymar. Getafe’s coach Luis Garcia Plaza went with Codina, Vigaray, Rafa, Alexis, Roberto Lago, Juan Rodríguez, Lacen, Sarabia, Lafita, Míchel and Colunga.
The 4-0 scoreline from the first leg gave little hope to Getafe and only 4,000 fans turned out to see the game. The lack of atmosphere meant neither team produced the most intense performance though Barça generally controlled possession and therefore the rhythm of the game. The first chance came in the third minute after Messi played a long ball forward to Neymar on the left, Neymar waited for Messi’s sprint forward before playing the pass but Messi’s shot flashed wide of the near post.
There was little more in the way of early moments of danger as Barça played a patient game though in the 12th minute Adriano won a free kick on the left, Messi floated in the cross, the ball was knocked on by Bartra and Puyol to Tello at the far post who sliced his shot wide. There was a free kick in a more central position soon after but Messi lifted his kick over the wall and straight at Getafe keeper Jordi Codina.
Marc Bartra celebrated his 23rd birthday this week with a new contract until 2017 and he put in a dominating performance at the back. With Puyol looking in better shape than before Christmas there was little seen from Getafe in attack. However, in the 19th minute the home team came as close as they would to scoring all night when Lafita crossed from the left, Colunga flicked the ball on with his head and Juan Rodriguez fired a powerful volley from ten yards that Pinto did excellently to block.
In Barça’s next attack Neymar used his fancy footwork to try and gain a yard on Carlos Vigaray but as the Brazilian tried to cross his right foot slipped from under him and he fell writhing in pain and clutching his ankle. After a quick medical inspection it was clear he couldn’t continue and Alexis came on in his place. Soon after Getafe also lost a player when Alexis Ruano needed to be stretchered off which begged the question of where the stretcher was for Neymar who had to hobble round the pitch on the shoulders of the Barça physois. Thanks for that Getafe!
Barça began to turn up the pace in the last 15 minutes of the half. Tello had a shot deflected wide and Fabregas sent a 25-yarder over the bar. Then in the 38th minute Tello cut inside and sent in a low shot that Codina touched on its way past the post. Messi had been relatively quiet but he came to life in the five minutes before the break to great effect. First he dribbled and turned on the left of the area but Sergi Roberto and Fabregas couldn’t finish the move. Next Messi played the ball into the area for Alves who touched it on for Alexis who made a complete mess of the finish. Then, in the 44th minute, Fabregas found Tello on the left and the young winger squeezed in a cross and Messi beat a group of defenders at the near post to divert the ball home past Codina.
The goal left little to play for in the second 45 minutes and neither side showed too much ambition. To be fair to Barça the players maintained a serious attitude until the end but it was obvious that their lives didn’t depend on it. The monotony was broken by the brilliance of Messi who scored a goal that brought memories of his Maradona-like golazo against the same opponents in the cup seven years ago. It wasn’t quite as spectacular as the acceleration only started 40 yards out this time but it was stunningly good all the same. First Messi skipped past Michel before accelerating between Lisandro and Rafa, Vigaray tried to react but Messi sped past him too and finally he went round Codina’s despairing dive before slotting the ball into the empty net.
A minute later Fabregas sent Messi through again, the Argentinian held off Lisandro’s attempt to wrestle him back but this time Codina managed to get in the way of the shot. Xavi came on in place of Fabregas for his milestone 700th game for Barça but there was little more action to follow. Colunga had one more attempt for Getafe but Pinto’s save was not too difficult then right near the end Messi looked like scoring another memorable goal after he robbed Roberto Lago before nipping past Rafa and Vigaray but with just Codina to beat Messi fired his shot too close to the keeper who stuck out a leg to make a good save.
The injury to Neymar is the obvious negative point from the game though Tello’s finishing was also disappointing again. Messi’s performance and the fact he lasted 90 minutes was the best news of the night, he must surely be the early favourite for the 2014 Ballon d’Or and if he can steer clear of injuries it could be such an incredible year for the Argentinian. Bartra also deserves credit for another strong performance while there were also positive signs from Puyol though it was not the most testing game for him. Finally, a shout for Pinto who despite having little to do, completed another solid performance which should help him in his wish to stay on for another year next season.
Here’s Messi’s second goal in case you missed it.
Getafe: Codina; Vigaray, Rafa, Alexis Ruano (Lisandro m35), R.Lago; Juan Rodríguez (Castro m65), Lacen; Sarabia (Pedro Leon m61), Lafita, Míchel; Colunga.
Barça: Pinto 7; Alves 6, Bartra 7.5, Puyol 6.5, Adriano 6; Sergi Roberto 6.5, Song 6, Fàbregas 7 (Xavi m70, 6.5); Tello 5.5, Messi 8, Neymar 6 (Alexis m28, 6.5).
Goals: m44 Messi 0-1, m63 Messi 0-2.
Yellow cards: m16 Alexis Ruano, m20 Juan Rodriguez, m57 Lisandro.