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Barcelona player ratings vs Athletic Club: Time up for Xavi? Lamine Yamal heroics not enough as Blaugrana crash out of the Copa del Rey in extra-time

The Spanish champions saw their best chance of silverware this season slip away at San Mames as they threw away a 2-1 lead to lose 4-2

The end of the Xavi era at Barcelona could be here. The Blaugrana have lost yet another key game under the former midfielder as they battled Athletic Club for 120 minutes, but were thoroughly outplayed at both ends as they lost 4-2 after extra-time to exit the Copa del Rey at the quarter-finals stage.

Barca endured a miserable start, as Gorka Guruzeta gave the home side the lead inside 60 seconds, volleying home after a manic scramble inside the Barca penalty area. Against the run of play, Xavi’s side replied, however, as Robert Lewandowski deflected a loose ball into the net.

Lamine Yamal was excellent throughout, and the teenager gave Barca the lead before half-time goal as the teenager cut onto his left foot and fired a Lionel Messi-esque strike into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Athletic, though, were far from beaten, and equalised shortly after the break, Oihan Sancet nodded home after a well-worked move. Yamal then seemed certain to win it with five minutes remaining, but sliced his shot over the bar after rounding the keeper.

Extra-time was needed to settle things, and Athletic found a wave of energy in the additional half-hour to book a place in the semi-finals, as first Inaki Williams and then brother Nico netted at the end of either half of extra-time.

Having missed out on both domestic cups, a Champions League triumph unlikely and with a mountain to climb in La Liga’s title race, has Barca’s chance of silveware in 2023-24 now gone? And if so, does that mean Xavi should be too?

GOAL rates Barcelona’s players from San Mames…

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