Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez helped themselves to hat-tricks as Barcelona dismantled Valencia 7-0 in the Copa del Rey semi-finals on Wednesday.
Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Claudio Bravo were given the night off by Luis Enrique and subsequently replaced by Jeremy Mathieu, Aleix Vidal and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, with Arda Turan also coming in for Ivan Rakitic.
Valencia, meanwhile, handed a debut to Atletico Madrid loanee Guilherme Siqueira as Denis Cheryshev was named a substitute, despite the other new boy being the ineligible player who triggered Real Madrid’ expulsion from the Copa in December.
The rout started after just seven minutes, when Neymar broke through the middle and found Luis Suarez to his right, the No 9 then dragging a low finish into the bottom-left corner of Mat Ryan’s net.
Barca soon doubled their lead as a sweeping passing saw Sergio Busquets release Vidal down the right. The former Sevilla man then pulled the ball back for Suarez to curl home.
A minute before half an hour in Catalonia, La Blaugrana raced to a 3-0 advantage as Andres Iniesta, in bundles of space, was allowed to square the ball to Suarez, who in turn dummied for a Messi tap-in.
Barca still weren’t done as Messi struck the post after he met Suarez’s unselfish ball across goal, and Los Che’s night went from bad to worse, Mustafi seeing straight red for a last-ditch challenge on Messi in the area, yet Neymar could only plant his penalty onto the right-hand post.
Having brought on Sofiane Feghouli before half-time in a bid to change the game’s dynamics, Neville turned to Cheryshev, who entered the fray to universal acclaim and even pulled one back, although his tap-in at Ter Stegen’s far post was adjudged offside.
Yet, Barca were in no mood to ease up. Suarez’s deft backheel picked out Messi, who showed admirable strength to withhold two challenges in the Valencia box, before burying a finish past Ryan.
Neville and his methods came under mass scrutiny on social media during the game, but the Catalans’ football was in another realm, although Dani Parejo didn’t help matters, the captain far too casual in his own box as Messi quickly dispossessed him and rifled the ball home for his hat-trick.
With no respite in sight for Los Che and their defence all at sea, another sweeping move from the hosts allowed Suarez to bag a treble of his own with a free header at Ryan’s back post, before completing a memorable night for all Cules as he fired home a simple toepoke with two minutes to spare.
Barcelona 7-0 Valencia
Suarez 7, 12, 83, 88, Messi 29, 58, 74
Mustafi sent off 45
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Vidal, Pique (Bartra 61), Mathieu, Alba (Adriano 70); Busquets, Arda, Iniesta (Sergi 46); Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Valencia: Ryan; Barragan, Mustafi, Santos, Gaya; Danilo (Feghouli 33), Parejo, Gomes; Cancelo (Cheryshev 58), Rodrigo, Siqueira (Vezo 46)
Referee: Iglesias Villanueva