World cup winner he may be, but David Villa tonight played like a youngster proving his worth. 'El Guaje' was humble as he led his team to a rout of a Córdoba team who were keen to compete, but were basically overwhelmed. Barcelona's five - nil win puts them in the quarter finals where they will face Málaga. Indeed, Villa made such an effort that he couldn't finish the game. Suffering, Roura sent him off for an early shower despite the fact that Barcelona had already made their three substitutions. For now Villa is Barcelona's cup man, but he seems ready for so much more.
Villa scored two outstanding goals. The first came from a precision manoeuvre (Iniesta's signature move, where the ball appears stuck to the foot; called the Croqueta by many) which could have been made by Iniesta himself. The second was that of an authentic lethal striker. What he's been all of his life. Villa doesn't accept being a substitute, but he doesn't lament his fate. He talks on the pitch. His aim was "to be better than before the injury", and though he knows that getting into this vertigo inducing Barcelona team is hard, he won't give up. When he gets to play, he scores. Before Villa notched twice Thiago had put the home team in front. The 3-0 at half time showed the truth of it: Barcelona feel good. They are pressing far higher than they have done for a time now, and in addition to moving the ball well, they run hard when they don't have it. They are once again gaining depth on the pitch. Córdoba were too daring and only saw shadows in the first half. Berges dream, that their fans could enjoy themselves, wasn't to be.
Everything went so well for Barcelona that even Alexis threw the shackles off. The Chilean works tirelessly and offered ideas to his teammates. His problems arise in front of the goal. He missed four gilt edged chances, some of them with a comic touch, until he finally set himself free, scoring two. Roura, who had begun to suspect that the problem was serious, applauded the player from the dugout. Alexis offers more than people realise, but he needs to sort out his problem in front of goal.
Cesc and Puyol were rested for the second half. Tello, Jonathan dos Santos and Bartra came on. In spite of the changes, and a certain apathy from the stands at the lack of another Messi show, Barcelona attempted to maintain their solidity in the second half. It wasn't as complete a performance, but it was entertaining. Villa had paved the way for an easy saunter into the quarters, where they will find out what surprises Pellegrini holds for them.