In a world and team where standing too close to Lionel Messi for too long might hurt your perceived ability, Alexis Sanchez and David Villa are thankful some Copa Del Rey matches are against second division teams, giving a chance for Barcelona to win easily without their mega star.
Cordoba provided the perfect opportunity for four players to get so much needed playing time and a chance to show off their skills, proving there’s plenty of use for them this season if they’re just given the chance.
Thiago, the man some thought is a good enough reason not to bring over Cesc Fabregas is still a prospect in Barcelona, somewhat waiting for his chance to capture a spot among the midfield foursome, although at the current form of Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Sergio Busquets (unless this is true) it’s hard to see it happening this season.
Thiago has the ability to play multiple midfield positions, like it is expected from a Barca player who sometimes needs to be pushed forward to one of the wings, but his fantastic dribbling and shooting skills haven’t really been shown consistently during his playing time in the previous couple of seasons when given the chances, while an injury also hurt his progress. It’s these kind of matches, that end in a 5-0 win, with Thiago scoring the opener and probably good enough for one or two more, that give him and those backing him the hope that the day of becoming more of a factor for Barcelona isn’t too far away.
Alex Song is a different story. One of the most important players for Arsenal in the previous three seasons raised a lot of eyebrows when he made the move from London to Barcelona. It was more about the buying power of Barca and the decline of Arsenal than anything else, because Song is a backup to both the defense and the midfield, and it’s really hard to see him advancing beyond that role. Again, without the pressures and higher intensity of a league match, the match against Cordoba was a chance for Song to show he’s a much more consistent passer than what he has delivered so far.
And up to the strikers – Alexis Sanchez and David Villa. It’s not that Sanchez hasn’t been playing this season, but after no scoring for so long, the chances he’s going to get are limited. He doesn’t add to the passing game as much as Pedro does, who’s looking more comfortable in the Messi sidekick role this year. Until the Cordoba match, Sanchez has 12 appearances in the league with 0 goals and 3 assists. Other than that, he has only one champions league goal this season. These cup matches are a chance to get him back into respectable form, because Barcelona will need him as they continue down to securing the title and advancing in the Champions League.
Same and more goes to David Villa. Villa was one of the top 3 strikers in the world when he moved to Barcelona in 2010, starting a tad slow but having a brilliant ending to a three year stretch along with a few of his teammates, winning the Euro, World Cup and scoring in the Champions League final in the 3-1 win over Manchester United to cap off a magical run. Then came the injury, and the rough comeback, that is having its set backs. Maybe this performance (a brace) will convince Tito Vilanova there’s still a lot of use left in one Spain’s greatest finishers ever.