Barcelona tumbled out of the Spanish cup last night to a shock exit against third division opposition – just as they did last year.

Louis Van Gaal’s squad of superstars were humiliated 3-2 by little Novelda in Alicante despite having grabbed an early lead through Brazilian forward Geovanni.

The local hero was Novelda centre-forward Madrigal who hit a hat-trick. Madrigal struck in the 58th and 65th minutes after Barcelona had led from the seventh minute.

Barcelona pulled back on terms courtesy of a penalty converted by Juan Roman Riquelme after a foul on Fabio Rochemback after 68 minutes. However, 10 minutes later Madrigal broke away to shoot what proved to be winner beyond Barcelona’s new German keeper, Robert Enke.

Barcelona brought on Gaizka Mendieta and Javier Saviola in a vain attempt to save the game. Last season Barcelona crashed out to little Figueres and had promised their fans that history would not repeat itself.

Defeat will inevitably raise more question about Van Gaal’s attitude to former Boca star Riquelme – already a great favourite with the Barcelona fans but generally held back on the subs’ bench by his Dutch coach.
By Keir Radnedge