Valencia Expose Barca’s Weaknesses In Copa Del Rey Win5 min read
After their non-performance at Anfield a few weeks ago, the Copa del Rey final was meant to provide Barca with an end-of-season boost and yet another double to add to the glittering array of trophies won over the past decade.
Against a Valencia side that had only beaten them three times in the last 11 years, and a coach in Marcelino that had failed to get the better of the Blaugrana in his 20 previous encounters, the smart money was on Ernesto Valverde’s XI.
The way in which Barcelona began the match, suffocating the life out of their opponents, suggested that it was going to be a long night for Los Che, however, a warning shot came as early as the fifth minute.
On almost the first occasion that Valencia made it out of their half, they disrupted Barca’s defence enough to get a shot on target which, thanks to Gerard Pique’s heroics, didn’t end up opening the scoring.
It wasn’t long before Kevin Gamiero did so, however, a long ball out wide and a cross into the front man wrong footing the entire Blaugrana defence for an easy finish.
Worse was to follow when Carlos Soler was given acres of space to run into behind Jordi Alba, allowing him the opportunity to find Rodrigo in the middle. With just over half an hour played, a 2-0 score line gave Valverde and his troops a mountain to climb.
Having not lost to Barca in their previous encounters this season, Marcelino’s decision to get as many bodies around Lionel Messi as possible was the single most important factor in the winning of the final.
With their main man reduced to hunting for scraps, Barca were moribund as an attacking force.
It’s true that without Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele things were always going to be difficult in that regard, but Philippe Coutinho failed to deliver once again, and the decision to play Sergi Roberto as a right winger rather than Malcom was the wrong one.
When the latter came on at half-time, the Blaugrana at least looked more dangerous in attack, even if their only goal came as a result of Messi’s poaching instincts rather than a decent passage of play.
Barcelona's streak is over!
After winning four straight Copa del Rey titles, the champions come up short and fall to Valencia in the final. pic.twitter.com/FPTNsT3kSl
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 25, 2019
Across the 90 minutes, Barcelona’s weaknesses were exposed time and again, with each facet of their team exposed.
Defensively, they were often at sixes and sevens, whilst a midfield of Busquets, Rakitic and Arthur were unable to get a foothold, allowing Dani Parejo to run the show for Los Che.
It will have given Valverde and his board some serious food for thought ahead of one of Barca’s most important summer transfer windows for years.