After its draw during the county derby against Espanyol (1-1) for its last match of the year 2022, FC Barcelona entered the Spanish Cup with a trip to CF Intercity, third division border. Catalan technician Xavi Hernandez therefore took the opportunity to rotate his workforce, with Jordi Alba the sole starter against rivals Barcelona a few days earlier.
A volunteer Ousmane Dembele
On the bench in the league, Ousmane Dembélé and Jules Koundé were present in the starting line-up, just as Ronald Araujo was back on the Spanish field after a few months’ absence. From the start of the match, the Blaugranas quickly put pressure on their evening opponent and won the midfield battle without doubt. And on a corner from Pablo Torre, the Uruguayan cut the middle at the near post to unlock (1-0, 4.). An opening that allowed the visitors to quickly control the pace of the match.
However, Xavi’s men were sometimes surprised by the lively formation of Alicante, especially with Aarón Piñán’s beautiful breakthrough in the axis, which dribbled Iñaki Peña but was eventually controlled by Araujo (18th). Dembélé, holder on the right of the attack, spearheaded the Catalan offensive sector, but lacked accuracy in the final gesture (9th, 22nd, 50th), as did Memphis Depay (28th) and Ferran Torres (45 + 1st) . Due to missing the break, CF Intercity was finally rewarded with the equalizer signed by Oriol Soldevila Puig on a corner, he who had passed through La Masia in his youth (1-1, 59.).
A frantic Catalan defence
Dembélé restored the advantage to his side with a stunning dive (2-1, 67′) before “Solde” doubled the lead a few minutes later (2-2, 74′). And as before the last quarter, Barça got back in front thanks to the incoming Raphinha… and the inevitable Soldevila Puig, following a fine save by his goalkeeper Gaizka Campos in front of the Brazilian (85th), equalized a third time in the game ( 3-3, 86.). Despite some forays into the opposite area, FCB lacked realism and were forced to go through extra time to pass their first round of the national cup.
In the extra 30 minutes, Jordi Alba, well served by Sergio Busquets, found the crossbar before being penalized for an offside position (100th). Three minutes later, Ansu Fati finally deceived the opposition goalkeeper with a shot blocked by the defense (4-3, 103rd) for his first goal in his last 7 matches in official competition in the Blaugrana shirt. After getting a three-time scare, La Liga leaders Barça advance to the Copa Round of 16, which will be played in mid-January, before facing quiet winners Atlético de Madrid. ‘Oviedo earlier in the evening, in the league at the weekend.