Barcelona celebrated their seventh consecutive Copa del Rey semifinal qualification after thrashing Real Sociedad 5-2 on Thursday.
Lionel Messi, Arda Turan, and former Liverpool hitman Luis Suarez found the net as La Blaugranas went crazy with goals at Anoeta.
Denis Suarez had one of his best football moments during the game which ended 6-2 on aggregate in Barca’s favor. The 23-year-old mercurial midfielder scored a brace, and his performance was applauded by Luis Enrique, who believes the Spain international footballer is ready to step into Andreas Iniesta‘s shoes.
Denis remarkably scored Barca’s opener in their 4-0 victory over Eibar, a few days before the encounter with Sociedad.
“He could be, why not?” Luis Enrique said responds to a question on Denis fitting in for the 33-year-old Iniesta.
“Players have to evolve. He has to improve, he has the talent but Iniesta is Harry Potter, he makes magic, and it’s difficult to find another. Denis is on the right path and I hope he can be Iniesta’s replacement. It would be great news.
“The goals will boost his morale. One of his major virtues is his ability to penetrate from the second line and his presence in the penalty area. He just need a little more efficiency, but he’s shown that today with his finishes,” the 46-year-old coach adds.
“Denis is the one of the few young players to leave Barca B and be able to return. That’s because of taking care of the ball but also because of working hard off the ball, which some players forget about.
“During a game you have the ball for a minute or a minute and a half in the game, so if you don’t do well without it, you have no chance at this level. Denis understands that very well thanks to his spells at Villarreal and Sevilla and he’s well-loved by his teammates. He is in continue development.”
Denis joined the club’s first team in July, 2016. His contract at Camp Nou runs till 2020 with a current value standing at 18 million euros, according to a 24 January update from the Transfer Market.
“[On Barca’s overall performance] I had several options but due to high press of Real Sociedad I thought that Masche was going to be the best one to replace Busquets. Defensive he was spectacular and today that was very important. He has coped (without Busquets) but also Denis and Andre played a really good game,” Luis Enrique said in a post -match interview at Real Sociedad.
“When you consider the difficulty of the opponent, winning by that kind of margin is impressive. They’re dangerous with the ball. And they’re dangerous without the ball. Along with us, they’re one of the most in-form sides in Spanish football.”
Barcelona won 1-0 against against Sociedad in their first leg of the quarter-final matches – a jinx which took ten years to break at their hosts’ Anoeta stadium.
La Blaugranas joined Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo and Deportive Alaves in the semifinal stage.
“We knew that Real Sociedad had to take some risks because of the result in the first leg,” Luis Enrique said at a press briefing. “And with the quality players that we have, we were able to take advantage of the open spaces.
“Everybody knows how good Messi is as a passer,” the Spaniard said of his Argentine talisman who has scored 29 goals in 27 games this season. “The players up front just need to get in position and he will find them.”
Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan agreed with Enrique’s description of Messi, admitting that Barca were a better side in the game.
“Messi is a very intelligent player and he knows how to hurt you when you give him chances,” Sacristan said.
“We tried to create scoring opportunities but it’s always risky when you play an open match against Barcelona at Camp Nou. You are subjected to what happened tonight.”