Barcelona didn't have Xavi Hernandez or Lionel Messi but it hardly seemed to matter as Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez put on a ridiculous show in the first half as Barca blew away Mallorca 5-0 at the Camp Nou. Éric Abidal also made his return, playing his first minutes since a liver transplant last spring.
Stop me if you've heard this before. Opponent decides to play extremely deep and try to beat Barcelona on the counter attack. Barcelona starts a bit shaky but settles in and begins dominating possession. Barca goals inevitably come. Sound familiar?
Mallorca tried just that plan today and it worked for all of 20 minutes before their defense was unlocked by Barcelona with their usual style and wizardry.
Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez combined for both goals as Barca scored twice in less than two minutes and put the match to bed before halftime.
The first goal was a thing of beauty as Andres Iniesta found Cesc moving 20-yards from goal. Cesc took the ball, sent it right to Alexis before taking off a run that got him behind defender Alan Hutton as Alexis played the one-two perfectly, feeding Cesc for a low shot that beat Dudu Aouate inside the far post.
Just over a minute later Cesc fired a shot from the top of the Mallorca area that was saved by Aouate but the keeper left a massive rebound. Alexis pounced on the loose ball as his marker lost him after the shot and fired the ball high into the top of the top to make it 2-0.
Want more goals? Of course you do.
The Cesc and Alexis Show continued full force in the 37th minute as the two combined yet again to put Barca up 3-0. Cesc started the play this time, sending the ball into the Mallorca area to a waiting Alexis who held up the ball long enough for Fabregas to make a run. Alexis' return pass was perfect and Cesc fired a shot past Aouate.
Two minutes later a long ball from Fabregas landed right on the foot of Alexis as he split Mallorca's two central defenders and raced in on Aouate, beating the keeper with a low shot to his left and making it 4-0 Barca at halftime.
It' took less than a minute into the second half for Fabregas to complete the first hat trick of his career. This time instead of Alexis, it was Iniesta who sent the pass to Cesc as he cut across the Mallorca box. Cesc hit the brakes, allowing defender Kevin to over run him before beating the frustrated and helpless Aouate to make it 5-0.
Defender Éric Abidal entered the match in the 69th minute, returning to first team action for the first time since his liver transplant in April of 2012. It's his first minutes in the league since February, 2012. As you might expect, the Camp Nou fans gave Abidal a boisterous welcome as he returned to the pitch.