Barcelona given a scare by Unionistas but advance in the Copa del Rey

The Catalan side trailed but scored the next three goals to come away with a 4-1 victory
Unionistas v FC Barcelona - Copa del Rey
Unionistas v FC Barcelona - Copa del Rey / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

The Copa del Rey match against Unionistas de Salamanca was the first for Barcelona following their 4-1 embarrassment against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

On paper, it was a favorable match-up. But as has been the case this season, every opponent has caused Barcelona problems. This was no different.

Despite boasting the majority share of possession, it would be the home side who went ahead in the 31st minute. Alvaro Gomez volleyed in a cross from the right, leaving Iñaki Peña with no chance at a save.

The goal once again highlighted the defensive frailties from the Catalan side where the marking was too lax, allowing the cross and then Alejandro Balde who was left ball watching during the cross.

Barcelona responded in the 45th minute as they hit Unionistas on a counter where Joao Felix slipped in a pass to Ferran Torres, leaving him one-on-one against the keeper. Torres placed his shot to the opposite side of the keeper, much to the relief of Xavi Hernandez.

It took until the 68th minute for Barcelona to pull ahead.

Jules Kounde, who has come under criticism for his display at center-back, thundered in a shot from outside the area, beating the Unionista keeper.

That goal seemed to calm everyone's nerves down as Barcelona now had the lead. With the likes of Pedri, Ilkay Gundogan and Robert Lewandowski now on the pitch, Barcelona were able to control the game before Balde made up for his defensive lapse by scoring the third goal. He beat his markers for pace before rifling a shot towards the top of goal to put the game out of reach.

Barcelona did end up suffering more than they needed in the final moments of stoppage time thanks to some sloppy passing but they won with a 3-1 scoreline and advanced to the next round of the Copa del Rey.

It was far from even a decent performance with Barcelona only coming out ahead thanks to the fact they possess more quality both in their starting 11 and on the bench. In terms of functioning as a collective, they're still out of sorts with the most clear example being players passing to no one after expecting a teammate to make a run or be at a certain spot. It speaks of a team who look like they've never played a game together despite half of the season already done.

A loss most certainly would have meant the end of Xavi's tenure. The win doesn't grant him much credit either because of the display. The win keeps Xavi safe for now. But with only first division teams remaining for the next round, Barcelona's time in the cup could be near the end.

Xavi gets another opportunity to prove he is the right person to pull his team up from the doldrums on Sunday when they travel to Seville to take on Real Betis.