Barcelona are two-thirds of the way through completing a dream season, easily defeating Athletic Bilbao on Saturday in the Copa del Rey final, 3-1, and marking the last appearance for legendary Catalans central midfielder Xavi at Camp Nou.
The 2014-2015 La Liga champions had little trouble earning their second trophy of the season, playing in what was essentially a home match against a thoroughly overmatched Athletic Bilbao squad. Superstar forward Lionel Messi set the tone in the 20th minute with perhaps his best goal of the season.
Along the right side, Messi weaved his way past three defenders, then charged into the penalty box. He then faced another defender, but still found a way to deliver a left-footed shot that went near post on Iago Herrerin.
Sixteen minutes later, Barcelona added to their advantage. Midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Messi beautifully executed a give-and-go play. It would lead to Rakitic finding forward Luis Suarez, who avoided an offsides call as he made his way into the penalty box. The Uruguayan star then delivered a pass to his left to Neymar, who easily tapped in a shot into an empty net.
The second half was more Barcelona, as Messi secured a brace with a relatively easy shot in the box off a fine assist from wing back Dani Alves in the 74th minute. Athletic Bilbao denied Marc-Andre ter Stegen a shutout when Inaki Williams scored a header off an Ibai Gomez cross.
While Messi scored twice, the man of the match may have been Xavi. The 35-year-old, who was a product of Barcelona's famed youth system, made his final appearance with the Catalans at Camp Nou after first appearing with the club in 1998. Xavi made more than 500 appearances for Barcelona in a career highlighted by exceptional field vision and deft passing. He will play for Qatari club Al-Saad next season.
Xavi entered the game as a substitute for Andres Iniesta in the 56th minute, in an exchange of classic Barcelona midfielders. Iniesta, another product of Barcelona's youth system, provided one of his trademark flick passes just one minute before he was subbed out for the Spain legend.
It was that type of game for the champions. The winning swagger never dissipated over 90 minutes for Luis Enrique's squad.
Barcelona have now won the Copa del Rey 27 times to extend their lead in the famed tournament. Athletic Bilbao, who are second to Barcelona as 23-time winners, were back in the final for the first time since 2012, but had not won it since 1984. Real Madrid are the third most successful club in the tournament's 111-year history, with 19 titles.
Up next for Barcelona is the final third of their quest for the treble. They face Juventus next Saturday in the Champions League final in Berlin.