One last shot
Two things will come to an end this Saturday during the Copa Del Rey final- the use of Vicente Calderón stadium, and Luis Enrique’s tenure as FC Barcelona’s coach.
Following a first year with a treble and a second year with a national double, the Asturian does not intend to finish his last season without any title, having been ousted of UEFA Champions League in quarterfinals to Juventus and his victory against Eibar in Camp Nou not enough for a Liga trophy due to Real Madrid’s simultaneous win in Málaga. Barcelona, therefore, arrives in Madrid knowing there are no further chances. It is this match- or nothing at all.
With Luis Suárez and Sergi Roberto banned following the previous semifinal against Atlético de Madrid and Aleix Vidal having just received the medical clear, the defense risks showing once more the inconsistency displayed throughout the season. However, the return of Javier Mascherano and Gerard Piqué from injury might lead to a semi-stable line, even if Mascherano has been raising questions as well. The return of the Piqué-Umtiti association, however, might prove beneficial to the club.
As for the forward line, with Suárez banned, Paco Alcácer appears once again as an option, counting on Luis Enrique going for a 4-3-3, which is quite likely. The former Valencia attacker has once again a chance to be influential in the result, as well as associating himself with Messi and Neymar.
The goalpost will continue to be guarded by Jasper Cillessen, who has been in charge of it for the whole competition.
Ultimately, no game has ever been more final for Barcelona. With Luis Enrique aiming for a successful sendoff, the team aims to not only honor their coach, but also to set foundations for their next coach, who will almost certainly be watching. It hasn’t been their best season, but it hasn’t been their worst either. The goal now is to show it.
A chance for David
Alavés arrives in Madrid as the Cinderella/David team. Having just arrived in the First Division, the team has not only managed to secure a ninth position out of seventeen teams, but also to reach their first Copa final in their history. It is their first overall in sixteen years, since the 5-4 victory Liverpool inflicted on them for UEFA Cup in Dortmund by golden goal.
A lot has happened since then and now they are ready to set a challenge for Barcelona. In previous encounters this season, they defeated them at their home by 1-2. They later posed a challenge in Vitoria, until giving in to pressure and falling to 0-6.
With young coach Mauricio Pellegrino showcasing the team’s competitive, working ethics, a 5-4-1 scheme sounds likely. With only central defense Víctor Laguardia dismissed and Rodrigo Ely returning to the position, Alavés seems stable in their lineup as they aim for a miracle, in a stadium where big clubs haven’t had it easy lately. Echoing a similar ethic, Alavés hopes to put themselves back in Spain without any question. The rest is left for next season.
FC Barcelona: (Coach: Luis Enrique)
Deportivo Alavés: (Coach: Mauricio Pellegrino)
As the greatest winner in the history of the competition, as well as with the names it has, it’s easy to consider a Barcelona win likely. However, a mastery of the defensive approach, as well as the other team’s inconsistency, could give Alavés a shot. It all depends on who scores first.