25th May, 2019
Barcelona will be hoping to achieve a fifth consecutive triumph in the Copa Del Rey competition, and thereby complete a domestic double for the 2018 / 2019 Spanish season as they take on Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey at the Benito Villamarin, Seville on Saturday.
Barcelona won the Spanish league but lost out in the Champions League, in which they were beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals, which means that the coach’s job could hinge on success or failure in this final match.
On the other hand, Valencia, are seeking to secure a terrific conclusion to a season in which they achieved a fourth-placed finish in the Primera Division, thereby qualifying for Champions League football for next term in the process.
The Barca coach coach called up his entire squad of 25 players for the final, including those not available to play. The players include the following:
Ter Stegen, N. Semedo, Piqué, I. Rakitic, Sergio, Coutinho, Arthur, Suárez, Messi, O Dembélé, Rafinha, Cillessen, Malcom, Lenglet, Murillo, Jordi Alba, Boateng, S. Roberto, Aleñá, Vidal, Umtiti, Vermaelen, Abel Ruiz, Iñaki Peña and C. Pérez.
Of the list above, Ter Stegen, N. Semedo, Coutinho, Arthur, Suarez, O. Dembélé, Rafinha and Boateng travel without medical clearance with little or no chances of playing depending on their level of injuries, whilst Todibo is already with the French team for the U20 World Cup.
Barca are well known for their high level of unity in the team and so it is not a surprise that even the unavailable players are travelling with the rest of the team.
In the same vein, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has stressed prior to Saturday’s match that the team coach remains in the long-term plans of the Camp Nou club.
“I want to value someone who discreetly, with respect and intelligence, is managing our team and the progressive incorporation of new values. I am referring to Ernesto Valverde, in whom we fully trust,” he told the media on Thursday.
Ever reliable central defender, Gerard Pique was similarly solid in his backing of the coach as he spoke toEl Pais: “It is not my job to decide because Valverde is my boss and he decides if he plays me or not.
“But what I can talk to you about is the excellent management he has with the group in these two years, how he has helped us to improve on a tactical level and the titles we have won, which we hope to expand on in the Copa final.”
As far as Valencia is concerned, they reached a European semi-final, losing out to Arsenal in the Europa League in both legs of their fixture.
For this match, Valencia boss Marcelino has his thoughts focused on only one player.
“The key is giving Messi little to do in the game,” he said. “The problem is that although he appears sparingly, his actions have a decisive influence.”
The Barca captain has scored three times in two fixtures against the Mestalla club this season, though both Liga fixtures ended in draws between the sides.
Valencia will surely draw some hope from those results as they face the Catalan giants in the Saturday’s showdown, as well as their blistering run up the league standings from 15th at the end of November to the Champions League spots.
The biggest challenge facing Marcelino this term however will be the daunting task of over-coming the four-time defending champions of this competition.
Possible Valencia starting XI: Domenench; Wass, Gabriel, Garay, Gaya; Carlos Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Rodrigo, Gameiro.