Can Misses was a full house. Nearly seven-thousand spectators flocked to the stadium for Ibiza’s historic cup tie against FC Barcelona. It was an occasion to be remembered: after all, it’s not every day that “one of football’s giants” –to use the words of Pablo Alfaro during the post-match press conference to describe Barça- comes to town. Ibiza’s head coach had classified the match as “a gift offered by football” during the days leading up to the match which were an intense and busy period for everyone involved in the club. The reward, however, was not to play a round of 32 tie in the Copa del Rey and return home after exchanging jerseys with some of the world’s football stars. Alfaro wanted his team to compete with one of the world’s powerhouses and his players followed the orders in the best possible of ways. For Ibiza’s sky blue faithful, it soon became evident and clear that the match was not going to be an ordinary David vs. Goliath encounter. Far from it, in fact, because Ibiza stepped off the team bus with the objective and motivation to make life as difficult as possible for Barcelona. And so they did. The opening minutes saw Barcelona control possession without producing any clear-cut and decisive opportunities. The underdog, Ibiza was hungry from the get-go and closed down the spaces which made it hard for Barcelona to impose itself on the match.
Ibiza’s high-powered style of switching quickly from defensive to attacking plays soon paid off with an early goal to take the lead With eight minutes played, Javi Lara and Raí combined to make Barcelona’s defence consisting of Semedo, Lenglet and Junior look vulnerable. Ibiza’s midfield maestro from Córdoba provided a perfect pass for the Brazilian winger whose dazzling run had the Barcelona defence guessing what he would do. Providing a dangerous cross into the box which landed just around the penalty spot. Popping up after a powerful run into the box was Javi Pérez who connected with the ball which deflected off a Barcelona defender and Pep Caballé found its way into the back of the net, leaving Barcelona’s Neto with no chance of preventing Ibiza to take the lead and setting the house on fire. The crowd could not contain itself and celebrated the opening goal in full voice with the entire squad in the corner of the newly created Portinatx and Es Vedra stands.
Despite the fact that Ibiza played great and inspiring football in the opening minutes, you could have been forgiven had you rubbed your eyes to believe the scoreline. Ibiza, 1; Barcelona, 0. Passionate jubilation turned into resounding chants of ‘Yes, we can!’ all around Can Misses. The goal injected further belief into an Ibiza side and its supporters resulting in growing confidence and determination seen in the play of Pablo Alfaro’s men.
The response of new manager Quique Setién’s Barcelona was to be expected shortly after, but it didn’t materialise before half-time. Instead, Ibiza went from strength to strength with a number of great chances to extend its lead. Rodado had a goal disallowed after he was adjudged to have fouled Lenglet after a one-on-one duel in the Barcelona box. Soon after, Raí saw his effort bounce off the post and it was by then that Barcelona looked like a side that could be beaten. Even more so, Ibiza looked like a team that was ready to create even more history than it already did in the Copa Del Rey campaign so far.
While these chances gave Ibiza an added motivation and optimism to start the second half, Pablo Alfaro’s men also went into the break feeling as though they missed glorious chances to virtually be one step away from sealing a famous upset. While both sides took a break to regroup and re-evaluate their tactical game plans, Can Misses turned into a party fuelled by the musical and folkloric performances of Ibizan DJ Manu González and one of the club’s fan clubs, Penya Pagesa, respectively. Once the music made way for football to resume, the crowd saw a Barcelona side that started to show signs of their well-known class without looking to threaten Ibiza’s goal, however. Barça’s coach Setién soon made changes to his line-up by bringing on big guns Jordi Alba, Arthur and Arturo Vidal.
Barcelona’s first shot on goal came in the 70th minute with Rakitic providing a tame shot saved by Ibiza’s Germán. Adding to their superior ball possession, Barcelona finally started to find its rhythm when De Jong set up Griezmann with a classy pass. The French World Cup winner did not miss the opportunity and put his side level on 72 minutes. The equaliser did not unsettle Ibiza, however, with the home side picking up its game which looked destined to go to extra time or perhaps even penalties. The fourth official indicated that six minutes of added time were to be played and just as the fourth of those additional minutes began to be played, it once again was Griezmann who got on the end of a Jordi Alba pass to connect with an angled shot which beat Germán. Ibiza was left with little to no time to react to the heart-breaking second goal it had conceded and so the match ended with FC Barcelona running out winners on the night.
Can Misses and its sold out crowd jumped to the Ibiza players’ sentimental rescue and celebrated the team with appreciative chants to acknowledge the mammoth effort displayed by the Sky Blues in this year’s Copa del Rey competition. While the scoreboard confirmed that Ibiza’s road in the competition was over, the team and the club, its fans and everyone involved with and supporting the club as a whole registered a famous victory as far as international reputation and image is concerned. The 22 January 2020 will go down in Ibiza club history as a day that not only was unforgettable in every aspect, but also that it propelled the club to the next level, putting the club well and truly on the map of Spanish football and beyond, true to its motto of climbing to the top.
1 – Ibiza: Germán; Kike López, Gonzalo, Mariano, Grima; Núñez, Javi Lara (Sibo, 76’), Javi Pérez; Caballé (Fran Carbia, 86’), Rodado (Diego, 73’) and Raí. Unused substitutes: Lucas (GK), Arranz, Quintanilla and Cirio.
2 – FC Barcelona: Neto; Semedo, Lenglet, Junior; Sergi Roberto De Jong, Rakitic (Arturo Vidal, 80’), Riqui Puig (Arthur, 71’); Carles Pérez (Jordi Alba, 58’), Griezmann and Ansu Fati. Unused substitutes: Ter Stegen (GK), Umtiti, Abel Ruiz and Chumi
Goals: 1-0, Javi Pérez (8’); 1-1, Griezmann (72’), 1-2, Griezmann (94’)
Referee: Pablo González Fuertes (Asturias). Assisted by linesmen Alfredo Rodríguez Moreno (Castilla La Mancha) and Álvaro Yeray Carreño Cabrera (Tenerife). Fourth official: Leandro Carbajales Gómez (Asturias). Yellow cards shown to Kike López (60’), Diego Mendoza (77’), Kwasi Sibo (82’) and Barcelona’s Ansu Fati (90’).