The Copa del Rey is for those who want it
Barça are in today's draw for the semi-final of the 2017/18 Copa del Rey as the squeezed through at the expense of Espanyol but were made to sweat for their qualification. Their city neighbours pushed Valverde's side all the way where just one goal would have been enough to send "Los Periquitos" into today's draw. They, however never mounted real threats on the Barça goal but there was a dubious decision in the closing stages after a counter from Baptistao saw the ball squared into the patch of Gerard who fell in the area with a shove in the back from Jordi Alba. It was a passage of play that left me with doubts and unsure if the correct decision was made by the match official. In the end it was the side in claret and navy who progressed and it was interesting to see both Catalan teams field full strength sides with the exception of the goalkeeping position. It was also the night where Coutinho made his Camp Nou debut in a Barcelona shirt and the Brazilian slotted comfortably into the set-up.
Barça, Sevilla, Valencia & Leganes
So in the end it's Barça who join Valencia, Sevilla and surprise package Leganés in the draw. The Real Madrid quarter-final elimination at the hands of the "Cucumber Harvesters" was a global trend yesterday and seeing the way Barça seem to take every competition seriously, many have asked me as to why Zidane would have fielded his reserve team in an important quarter-final match? Did he feel so cock-sure that the tie was over that he felt this set of players would see Leganés off? This is a very different "B team" from last year's when he could call upon the likes of Danilo, Pepe, James and Morata. He also decreed it fit to omit Cristiano and Bale from the squad. The omission of the Portuguese one could justify given his eye injury but leaving out an inform Gareth Bale really makes one wonder....
The Copa is for those sides prepared to work hard at aspiring to win the trophy and Zidane clearly blew an opportunity to have a tilt at silverware with his side languishing some 19 points behind Barcelona in the league. This can also be applied to Diego Simeone and his Atletico side who, given the recent surprise exit from the Champions League, could have used the cup as a platform in securing a title. In the end the Argentine coach opted to play Moyá, who is good instead of Oblak, who is excellent. For me the Slovenian stopper is one of the finest in the world and for a moment Simeone forgot that the rival in the quarter-final was Sevilla and not just any random Segunda B outfit.