Lionel Messi stars as Barcelona thrash Celta Vigo in the cup

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

The Argentine and his strike partner Luis Suarez were recalled by Barca coach Ernesto Valverde who put out his strongest team against the Galicians, with the tie delicately poised at 1-1 after last week's game in Vigo.

"It's luxury to have Leo in the side, he's the best in history". "He has been at a spectacular level for 12 years". A lovely piece of skill nearly laid on a goal for Iniesta before he was withdrawn just before the hour mark.

It's a relationship which has only really blossomed in the last six months, with Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain allowing Alba much more space on the left.

"We go into the game with the idea of winning it". It often looks like Messi is playing a different game to his contemporaries and after getting his name on the scoresheet twice he set up Barcelona's third goal. "I hope that our connection continues like this forever".

Valverde said: "We are going to wait, people appreciate him a lot for the time he has been here".

"We are seeing a lot of them this season, but it makes sense because there is no winger on the left anymore and there is room for [Alba] to surprise from deep".

Moments later, Barca grabbed their fourth goal on the night when Luis Suarez pounced on Pione Sista's poor back pass before slotting past Alvarez.

The fifth goal arrived three minutes from the full-time whistle when an un-marked Ivan Rakitic sent a fine header into the top corner following a cross from Ousmane Dembele.

Barca were duly handed a clash with Espanyol before Atletico Madrid and Sevilla were paired together.

Aregentina boss Jorge Sampaoli was a visitor at Tuesday's session, speaking to Valverde and keeping an eye on his charges Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.