Barcelona 1-2 Valencia: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Los Ches Stun Barça to Win Copa del Rey

?Valencia defied the odds and won their first Copa del Rey since 2008 as they edged to a 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Benito Villamarin.

Barcelona were the clear favourites heading into the clash having wrapped up La Liga title with ease and created the better chances whilst also dominating the possession, but in the end they didn’t have an answer for Valencia’s pace on the counter-attack which left them shell-shocked.

First-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno sent Los Ches into the half time break with a two-goal lead, with ?La Blaurgana coming out firing to start the second half. After squandering a number of opportunities, ?Lionel Messi got his side back into the game with a quarter of the game remaining.


Barça fought until the very end, but just couldn’t find and equalising goal as Valencia stunned the footballing world and took home the Copa del Rey crown. Here’s a breakdown of the night’s events: 


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

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Barcelona were looking to secure their fourth domestic double in five years and having won the competition in all of the last four years, they would’ve been confident heading into the final. 

Unfortunately for them things didn’t turn out the way they may have expected, with the team still appearing to be suffering from the hangover of Anfield. They had no answer to Valencia’s threat on the counter-attack and although they dominated the stats in terms of possession and shot, they couldn’t find an end product.

They would’ve been desperate for more silverware after being dumped out of the Champions League in the manner which they were, and will instead be left bitterly disappointed with Valverde’s future at the club seemingly in doubt.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cillessen (5); Semedo (5), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Alba (5); Rakitic (6), Busquets (6), Arthur (5); Roberto (5), Messi (8), Coutinho (6). 

Substitutes: Vidal (6), Malcom (7), Alena (6).

STAR MAN – Although it wasn’t to be Barcelona’s day, Messi was still their main threat on the night. He was up to his usual tricks causing havoc amongst the Valencia defence and got his side back in the game with a poacher’s finish to make it 2-1.

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??He went close on a number of other occasions and even struck the post at the start of the second half, but unfortunately, after carrying his Barcelona teammate for the majority of the season he couldn’t carry them all the way to a cup win. 


VALENCIA

Key Talking Point


Although the odds were stacked against Valencia heading into the final, they had proven to be tough opposition for Barcelona during the season. In both ?La Liga meetings, Marcelino’s men held La Blaugrana to draws with Valverde’s men unable to get the better of Valencia, and the final followed a similar pattern.

Valencia were clinical when they needed to be and were strong in defence, the perfect recipe to upset Barcelona. Their work rate was unrelenting and their pace caused the Barça defenders all sorts of problems during the course of the game.

It was their first Copa del Rey triumph since 2008 and they thoroughly deserved it after a defiant performance on the night.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Domenech (9); Wass (6), Garay (6), Paulista (8), Gaya (7); Soler (7), Parejo (7), Coquelin (7), Guedes (6); Moreno (8), Gameiro (8). 

Substitutes: Kondogbia (6), Piccini (6), Diakhaby (N/A).

STAR MAN – It was a fine display from the whole team and a number of players could well have been recognised as the best player, but had it not been for Jaume Domenech between the sticks Valencia certainly wouldn’t have won the trophy.

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He made a number of fine saves at crucial times in the match to deny Barcelona and to keep his Valencia side in the driving seat. In the end Los Ches won by a one-goal margin, which highlights just how important Domenech’s saves were in helping his side win the cup.


Looking Ahead

It was the final action for both teams in their respective seasons and whilst both sides came away with silverware, both may be left feeling they could’ve had more.

Barcelona were? dumped out of the Champions League having taken a commanding position in the semi-finals against Liverpool, and losing to Valencia topped off what was a very disappointing end to the season for Valverde’s men. 

As for Valencia, they’ll be delighted with the Copa del Rey win, but may feel they could’ve done better in the Europa League against Arsenal.

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Matthijs de Ligt ‘Very Close’ to Manchester United as Red Devils Gazump Barcelona Offer

?Coveted Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt is ‘very close’ to Manchester United, after the Red Devils made a ‘very good’ offer to the defender, according to one Catalan report.

The 19-year-old Ajax captain is currently one of the most talked about players in world football, with his impressive displays in the Dutch champions’ run to within a Lucas Moura finish of the Champions League final leading fans and the media to speculate furiously on where he will end up next.

With it all but a foregone conclusion that de Ligt will follow Frenkie de Jong out the door at Ajax this summer, most assumed he would join his €75m teammate at ?Barcelona this summer. However, talks appear to have stalled over a move to Camp Nou. The daily updates from ?the Catalan media admit the deal is on the ropes, with Barça apparently unable to match the financial packages of other suitors.

One of those other suitors is Manchester United, who could now be the frontrunners to land football’s hottest wonderkid.


After the player was spotted liking United-based posts on social media earlier this week, naturally sending the United Twittersphere into a frenzy, journalist ?Gerard Romero of Catalan radio station RAC1 is sure to set pulses racing further with the titillating claim that de Ligt is now ‘very close’ to Old Trafford.

He adds that while nothing has been agreed yet, United have made a ‘very good’ offer for the player – with the word ‘very’ capitalised in his tweet for added emphasis.


A separate report from Catalan daily 
?SPORT may have more information on the details of United’s offer.


They claim that United have offered €14m-a-year (£12.3m), which would work out at €270k (£238k) a week if split as a basic weekly wage.

SPORT add that this is a sum of money Barça are unwilling to pay, particularly after shelling out an expected €70m for the transfer fee. 

Meanwhile, Spanish football expert ?Guillem Balague adds that Barça are continuing in their attempts to woo de Ligt with factors other than money. However, Balague claims that Bayern Munich and Juventus are the other major players in the transfer saga rather than United.

“I’m hearing that Manchester United is not after de Ligt,” he said in a clip posted on Twitter. “I wonder if that has to do with the fact that they don’t want him – which I’d be surprised – or that he doesn’t want to go to United – which I’d be less surprised. There’s no Champions League. He can choose the other clubs.

“Manchester United are out of the equation for de Ligt as it stands right now.”

De Ligt would certainly represent an enormous coup for United, whose status as one of Europe’s biggest clubs able to attract top talent is under threat after a bitterly disappointing season.

United would undoubtedly be able (and probably more than willing) to pay up for the Dutchman, while he also fits the supposed recruitment prerogative for younger players.

However, as Balague suggests, the lack of Champions League football means it would be an eyebrow-raising career move from de Ligt and one wonders whether his agent Mino Raiola is simply using United’s interest to force Barcelona’s hand.

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Laurent Koscielny Considering Emirates Exit as Arsenal Weigh Up Move for Barcelona Defender

?Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny is considering leaving the club this summer after talks over a new deal with the club hit a brick wall.

The 33-year-old has been one of the club’s most consistent performers ever since arriving at Emirates Stadium in 2010, joining in an £11m deal from French side Lorient.

Koscielny has a contract at Arsenal until 2020 and has even been in talks to extend his deal, but L’Equipe (via The Mirror) claim that the three-time FA Cup winner is now tempted by a move away from north London.

Laurent Koscielny

It’s been suggested that a breakdown in recent extension talks was the catalyst for Koscielny’s current situation, and the Frenchman is now considering making next week’s Europa League final his last ever game in an Arsenal shirt.

Since arriving at the club, Koscielny has gone on to make 352 appearances across all competitions, being part of three FA Cup winning sides during the latter stages of Arsène Wenger’s time in charge.

Although Koscielny hasn’t made a decision over his future this summer, the France international has already been shortlisted by a number of clubs across Europe – with Arsenal looking at a move for Samuel Umtiti from Barcelona to replace him. 

Stade Rennais want to lure the veteran defender back to Ligue 1 ahead of the new season and have already made contact with Arsenal, while AC Milan are also believed to be in the very early stages of negotiations.

But reports suggest that the Frenchman actually appears to be attracting the most attention from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, who were able to finish in the league’s final Champions League place on the final day of the season.

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Lionel Messi Reveals How Much Shock Liverpool Comeback Hurt Him and Barcelona Teammates

?Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has admitted he is still hurt by the club’s humiliating exit from this season’s Champions League, where the club threw away a 3-0 semi-final first leg lead against Liverpool in an incredible night at Anfield.

Two goals apiece from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum gave Liverpool the 4-0 victory they required to progress to the final in Madrid, while Messi and his teammates were left distraught at another capitulation in Europe’s elite competition.

Barcelona also lost a three-goal advantage in the European Cup last season, going out to Roma on away goals having won the first leg 4-1 at the Camp Nou, and the Argentina international has admitted that this year’s loss has greatly affected himself and the rest of the squad.

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Quoted by the Liverpool Echo speaking ahead of Barca’s Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday, Messi said: “It was a really big blow which we received at Anfield – me and all the dressing room felt it.

“It was tough to get back up, you saw that in the next game we had to play. It was a really tough blow. Now [we] have the chance to win a double and end the season on a high note.”

Despite having the opportunity to lead his side to consecutive domestic doubles, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is risk of losing his job due to the club’s lack of success in the Champions League during his reign.

Ernesto Valverde

Messi added: “I haven’t seen much of the criticism of the manager, and sincerely I think Valverde has done an impressive job all the time he’s been here. In the game against Liverpool he was hardly to blame for anything. We as the players are to blame.”

That remarkable defeat means the 31-year-old will be forced to watch on as their semi-final conquerers take on English rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the final at the Wanda Metropolitano on 1st June, with the Reds looking to win the sixth European Cup title in their history.

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Dani Alves Reveals Why He Snubbed Man City & Offers Insight Into ‘Scuffle’ With Pep Guardiola

?Paris Saint-Germain defender Dani Alves has shed some light on why he rejected a move to join Manchester City in 2017, as well as his relationship with Pep Guardiola.

The Brazil international was part of Guardiola’s record-breaking Barcelona team and spent a total of eight years at Camp Nou, before eventually leaving Catalonia for Juventus in 2016.

After an ‘unpleasant year’ in Turin, it appeared to be nailed on that Alves would reunite with Guardiola at Manchester City, but the 36-year-old has explained that he turned down the chance to move to the Premier League as he was offered a more ‘exciting proposition’ by Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona's coach Josep Guardiola (L) ge

I had spent a somewhat unpleasant year in Italy, in Turin. I felt cheated since I didn’t get what I had been promised. And that’s the worst feeling there is,” Alves told ESPN. “I felt that they failed me, and I left Juventus.

Then, I thought about my personal well-being, my family’s. That’s why I didn’t go to City. Pep knows about how much I appreciate him and that I’d be willing to work with him again. 

“However, at that moment I wasn’t really thinking about a reunion with him, I was thinking about what I needed in order to be happy and the new challenges I had ahead of me. 

“All my challenges with Guardiola were solved and Paris represented a more exciting proposition. The relationship between us is very positive.”

Alves was referencing the time where he clashed with Guardiola whilst they were working together at Barcelona.

Despite admitting that the two did have a ‘scuffle’ in Catalonia, Alves insists that the pair have sorted out their differences and are still on good terms to this day.

There was only a moment in which we had our disagreements, but we talked it out. There was a bit of a scuffle, but we were able to fix it one week later,” he added.


“For me, that’s the big virtue Pep Guardiola has. He makes decisions holding his heart in his hand, but he’s able to make the best decisions, and that’s what I like about him, even if it hurts you. 

“He’s a perfectionist. Sometimes, he tries to take a step back in order not to fail. In our last year, we didn’t feel Pep was that way anymore since he is a f*****g genius.”

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Dani Alves Reveals How Close He Came to Joining Real Madrid & Explains Talks Over Chelsea Move

?Paris Saint-Germain star and Barcelona legend Dani Alves has revealed that he was ‘95 per cent close to signing with Real Madrid’ before a deal with the Spanish giants fell through at the last minute.

Alves, now 36, was one of European football’s most sought after players when he broke through at Sevilla, having arrived in Andalusia as a €550k full-back from Brazilian side Esporte Clube Bahia.

He spent a total of five years with Sevilla before joining Barcelona in 2008, but Alves has revealed that he was on the brink of joining Real Madrid before ‘fate got in the way’ and he went on to make history in Catalonia.

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I’ll be honest with you, I was 95 per cent close to signing with Real Madrid. However, [former Sevilla president Jose Maria] Del Nido is a very tough dude,” Alves told ESPN.

Chelsea also got involved [in talks] and they started to play along. He dealt with one side and he told them that the other team was willing to pay even more money than them. Then I had to make a decision and in the end, I stayed with Sevilla. 

“I was very close to signing with Real Madrid, but fate got in the way. It said that my history was going to be made with Barcelona, as I had dreamed as a kid. And you have to make dreams come true, instead of nightmares.

I’m grateful that I was able to avoid going to Madrid and, obviously, signing with BarçaReal was a winning side and I wasn’t going to go there in order to keep the status quo.

It was more exciting for me to build what we did in Barcelona. We had to change history and so we did. In Madrid, it would have been a case of adding pages to a book they had already written. Instead, with Barça, it was a different thing.”

Alves later explained that Chelsea came in for his signature once again not too long after their first approach, with Liverpool also showing an interest, but by that point, he was already committed to joining Barcelona some five years after first arriving in Spain.

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Ivan Rakitic Welcomes Antoine Griezmann Arrival as Barcelona Continue to Pursue Other Striker Leads

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has offered his support to Antoine Griezmann ahead of his expected arrival from Atletico Madrid, as Barça continue their search for another striker to play back up to Luis Suarez. 

After being snubbed by Griezmann last summer thanks to the infamous ‘La Decision’ video, La Blaugrana are expected to finally sign the Frenchman when his release clause comes into play on July 1, but until then they are seeking further striking reinforcements to alleviate the strain on Suarez.

Ivan Rakitic,Antoine Griezmann

According to ?Mundo Deportivo, the list of players they are currently looking at includes Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente, Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder, Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez and Girona’s Cristhian Stuani. 

Llorente’s contract is up at the end of this month, and the La Liga champions have been impressed by his showings in the ?Champions League this season. Ben Yedder and Gomez are at the higher end of the price range, with the pair currently holding €40m and €50m release clauses in their contracts after excellent goalscoring seasons.

Though not strictly a striker, Sevilla’s Pablo Sarabia has also been mooted, following his impressive goals haul this season. Stuani rounds up the group, and though he may be the most surprising, he could also be the most likely, with his wages set to be cut in half after the Catalan club’s relegation from the top tier. 

Indeed, as a Uruguayan international, the former Middlesbrough striker is a known friend of Suarez, and was even considered as a replacement for Munir when the youngster left last season.

There has been some speculation that ?Bar?ça’s players are none too keen on the idea of Griezmann joining the club, but speaking to Mundo Deportivo, as relayed by ?Marca, Rakitic dismissed these concerns, declaring: “I would love to have Griezmann on my team.”

The Croatian then joked: “Aside from the fact that last year he pushed me away from my dream of winning the World Cup, I really like him. He’s a top level player, one of the best in the world. He’s won almost everything and can add to any team.”


Speaking on the controversy surrounding ‘La Decision’, Rakitic explained: “That wasn’t a decision against Barcelona or anyone. It was taken in favour of Atletico Madrid. I congratulate him for that and if he comes here I’ll shake his hand and tell him that I respect him for the decision.”

The 31-year-old also took time to reaffirm his support for under-fire boss Ernesto Valverde, proclaiming: “Valverde is the perfect coach for us. The work he and his coaching staff do is fantastic.”

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Ranking the Most Valuable Players in Each League Ahead of the Summer Transfer Window

?The transfer window has opened in England and there has already been rampant speculation about the future of some of the hottest properties in the game.

Transfer fees are rising every summer and there may be some record-breaking fees paid in the coming window.

We take a look at the most valuable player (transfer fee-wise) from the top seven leagues in Europe – the ?Premier League, ?La Liga, ?Serie A, the ?Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Primeira Liga and the Eredivisie.


Eredivisie – Matthijs de Ligt

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?The Ajax academy product has been quite possibly the most talked about transfer subject of the season. He has had an outstanding campaign, helping guide Ajax to their first league title since 2014, winning the Dutch Cup and leading them on their improbable run to the ?Champions League semi-final. He has also established himself as a first choice centre-back for the Netherlands and has been integral to them reaching the Nations League finals. He won the Golden Boy award for 2018.

He was named captain of Ajax at just 17 and his performances have attracted the attention of many of Europe’s top clubs. He has been heavily linked to ?Barcelona, where his Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong has already agreed a transfer to. ?Manchester City, Manchester United, ?Juventus and ?Real Madrid are also ?reportedly interesting in signing the Dutchman.

With excellent technical ability, physicality and strong leadership skills at just 19 years of age, it easy to see why De Ligt is in such high demand. Very few centre-backs in world football possess the all-round qualities that he does, and he has shown that he is capable of thriving at the highest level, putting in outstanding performances as Ajax knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus in the UCL.

A ?reported transfer value of £63m means that any potential move would make De Ligt one of the most expensive defenders in the history of the game.


Primeira Liga – João Félix 

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João Félix has lit up the Primeira Liga this season, scoring 15 goals and providing seven assists in 26 appearances in just his first season in senior football. His performances were crucial to Benfica winning the league.

The 19-year-old has fantastic close control, dribbling, vision and is a clinical finisher. His composure in front of goal belies his tender age? and he was vital to Benfica’s run to quarter-finals of the Europa League.

In April 2019 he became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick in the Europa League when he netted three times against Eintracht Frankfurt. 

His form understandably alerted top clubs around Europe, with ?Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid and Manchester United all ?reportedly interested in securing his services. He has a release clause of €120m, and any potential transfer is likely to make him the second most expensive teenager ever. 


Ligue 1 – Kylian Mbappé

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At 20 years of age, ?Kylian Mbappé has already ?had a career that many players would dream of. He broke onto the scene with AS Monaco, scoring 26 goals in 44 appearances in 2016-17 season, helping them win the Ligue 1 title against all odds and ahead of the mighty Paris Saint-Germain.  

Mbappe’s lightning pace, movement and finishing ability made it clear that he was a once in a generation talent and his name was starting to be linked with big clubs across Europe. 

Ironically, Mbappé would then leave Monaco for PSG – his hometown club – the following season, in a deal where he would spend a campaign on loan before signing permanently for a ?reported £166m.

Mbappé won the domestic treble with PSG in his first season and was named in the France squad for the World Cup. He proceeded to have an outstanding tournament, scoring four goals to help guide France to their second World Cup triumph. 

The 20-year-old won the Best Young Player award for the tournament as well as being named in the World Cup Dream Team. He has had more recent success, winning Ligue 1 once again this season and being named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year. In his acceptance speech for the latter award however, he raised eyebrows with his comments about his future, fuelling speculation that he wanted to leave PSG. 

The Parisian club would later ?release a statement refuting any claims that Mbappé was unhappy or that he wanted to leave. He is currently ?valued at £180m but PSG would likely demand a much higher fee if they were to part ways with him.


Bundesliga – Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho joined Dortmund from Manchester City in 2017 for a fee of £7m, and since then, he has become one of the most exciting talents in Europe. He has adapted extremely well at the German club, helping guide Der BVB to a title challenge and the quarter-finals of the Champions League. 

His tally of 14 assists in Bundesliga was the joint-second highest tally among players in the top five European leagues. 

The youngster has been at the centre of constant transfer speculation throughout the season, being strongly ?linked to Manchester United despite having played for rivals City. He is ?valued at approximately at £72m, but it would be likely for Dortmund to ask for a much higher transfer fee to sell Sancho considering his age and the impact he has made.


Serie A – Kalidou Koulibaly

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The Senegal international has been one of the best defenders in Europe in recent years, and this season his performances have led to plenty of reports linking him with a move away from ?Napoli.

A commanding presence in the heart of defence, he has helped Napoli challenge Juventus at the top of Serie A in recent years.

Koulibaly has been strongly linked to a move to Manchester United for several months and the Red Devils have ?reportedly had a £96.4m bid rejected by Napoli, who insist that the defender is not for sale. 

The 27-year-old’s €150m release clause becomes active in 2020.


Premier League – Harry Kane

Harry Kane

In spite of the fact that the likes of ?Eden Hazard and ?Paul Pogba have been linked with moves to Real Madrid this summer, the Premier League player that would command the highest transfer fee is undoubtedly ?Harry Kane.

Kane has become one of the best strikers in the world since he broke into the ?Tottenham first team. The England star has a magnificent scoring rate, with 164 goals in 252 appearances, and won back-to-back Premier League Golden Boots in 2016 and and 2017.

He has also managed to translate his fantastic goalscoring ability to the international stage, winning the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot as England reached the semi-finals – their best finish in a World Cup since 1990.

In recent months the 25-year-old has shown he is more than just a goalscorer, dropping off into midfield, linking up play and showing his excellent passing range by setting up others.

Kane has become Tottenham Hotspur’s talisman over the past few years and will attract attention from the biggest teams in Europe, but with chairman Daniel Levy (who is know for being stubborn and shrewd in negotiations) at the helm, Spurs fans shouldn’t worry too much about losing their star man. They have ?reportedly set a £312m price for Kane in order to ward off potential suitors.


La Liga – Lionel Messi 

Lionel Messi

 The Argentine magician is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, footballer of all time. He continues to break record after record and his domination of Spanish football seems to be even more pronounced following the departure of his greatest adversary ??Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

?Messi is a unique phenomenon in the sense that not only is he a magnificent goalscorer, but he is also a brilliant passer of the ball. His close control, dribbling, finishing, passing and vision have been his greatest attributes, as he continues to defy logic and play at such as high level into his 30s.

This season he has secured his 10th La Liga title and was the top goalscorer and assist provider simultaneously for the second consecutive season. 

Of all the players on this list Messi would be the least likely to leave his current club. He joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old and his achievements have meant that he is revered by the Blaugrana supporters; a God-like figure who is likely to have a lifelong affiliation with the club.

Even at 32 years old Messi would still likely command one of the highest transfer fees in the history of the game in the extremely unlikely event that Barcelona decide to sell him.


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Barcelona vs Valencia Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Barcelona will aim to complete a league and cup double when they face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday evening.

Ernesto Valverde’s men have an outstanding record in this competition, their 30 wins being the most in its history, and they could become the first team to win it five times in a row with victory at Estadio Benito Villamarin. 

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Standing in their way is a Valencia team they finished 16 points ahead of this season but failed to beat during the league campaign, both games ending in stalemate.

Valencia only lost seven games in the league on the way to a fourth placed finish, and were Europa League semi finalists before exiting the competition at the hands of Arsenal.

Victory on Saturday will give Los Ches their eighth Copa del Rey and their first in 11 years.


Where to Watch

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When Is Kick Off? Saturday 25 May
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Estadio Benito Villamarin
TV Channel/Live Stream? N/A
Referee? Alberto Undiano Mallenco

Team News

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Rafinha is a long term absentee for Barcelona, having ruptured his cruciate ?ligament last November.

?Ousmane Dembele, Arthur, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Philippe Coutinho all missed the last La Liga fixture of the season with various injuries but each have a chance of making Saturday’s match.

?Marc-Andre ter Stegen has discomfort in his right knee and has been ruled out, as has Luis Suarez, who is aiming for pre-season to make his return from a torn meniscus.

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Marcelino, Garcia Toral is without Lee Kang-in, who has been called up to the South Korea national team, while Ezequiel Garay missed the last match with a hamstring strain and is doubtful for this fixture.

Winger Denis Cheryshev has been out since April, with a stretched ligament, and will not be fit until next month.


Predicted Lineups

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Barcelona Cillessen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, ?Vidal, Rakitic; Malcom, Messi, Coutinho.
Valencia Domenech; Wass, Diakhaby, Paulista, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Coquelin, Guedes; Rodrigo, Mina. 

Head to Head Record

Both games in the regular season were drawn. ?Barcelona were 2-0 down but fired back to gain a point when these two met at Camp Nou in February.

Four months earlier, Ezequiel Garay put Valencia ahead but ?Lionel Messi equalised and the match ended 1-1.


In 2017/18, there were four matches between the sides, with Barcelona coming out unbeaten – winning three of those games.

Valencia are without a win against Barcelona since a 2-1 triumph at Camp Nou in April 2016. In total, Barcelona have 32 victories over Els Taronges, they have lost to them 14 times and they have shared the spoils on 18 occasions.


Recent Form

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The La Liga champions are on a decent run at the moment, minus their capitulation against Liverpool ?in the semi final of the Champions League.

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They won the title a month ago and ended up finishing 11 points ahead of Atletico Madrid, but have taken their foot off the gas since securing ?La Liga for the 26th time.

Their opponents finished 2018/19 strongly, winning their last two fixtures, and qualifying for Europe’s premier competition next season.

Here’s how each side has fared in their last five games.

Barcelona

Valencia
Eibar 2-2 Barcelona (19/5) Valladolid 0-2 Valencia (18/5)
Barcelona 2-0 Getafe (12/5) Valencia 3-1 Alaves (12/5)
Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (7/5) Valencia 2-4 Arsenal (9/5)
Celta Vigo 2-0 Barcelona (4/5) Huesca 2-6 Valencia (5/5)
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool (1/5) Arsenal 3-1 Valencia (2/5)

Prediction

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They may have fallen short in Europe but Barcelona are formidable when it comes to domestic matters, and they are strong favorites to lift the Copa del Rey trophy. However, they have found Valencia difficult opponents recently.

If they want to win, Valencia must shackle Lionel Messi and take their chances when they arrive – Barcelona are not as strong at the back as they used to be.

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This will be a tight contest, Barcelona should have enough to edge it and end the season on a high.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Valencia

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Transfer Rumours: Mata to Newcastle, Camarasa Wanted by Duo, Inter Baulk at Darmian Fee & More

?The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will produce any text, such as the entirety of  Shakespeare’s works – or yet another Manchester United transfer rumour.

Although this time, for a change, it’s about players leaving Old Trafford. It doesn’t stop there though, oh no, and we’ve also got some rumours coming out of Spain and Germany to keep things fresh.

So without babbling on any further, here’s your roundup all of things transfer related for today.


Rafael Benitez Keen on Juan Mata Reunion 

Juan Mata,Rafael Benitez

As is clearly abundantly evident, unless you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, Benitez isn’t blessed with a shedload of money in the north east. The deciding factor on whether he opts to stay with ?Newcastle hinges on Mike Ashley’s willingness to unzip his Sports Direct trackie bottoms and splash a bit of cash.

Well, either way, ??The Sun? claim Benitez fancies a one particular player who would be available for diddly squat this summer, as Mata’s ?United contract is set to expire. He can’t get too carried away though, as if the Magpies were to lure Mata to the north east it would break certain club policies of signing players over 26. Furthermore, the Spaniard would be asking for considerable wages to switch to St. James’ Park.

Benitez worked with Mata when he managed Chelsea during the 2012/13 season and is eager to add his creative spark to his squad.


Wolves & West Ham After Cardiff’s Spanish Loan Signing

Victor Camarasa

It didn’t end well for Cardiff this season, as relegation was confirmed to the Championship at the first time of asking.

The one player who seemingly caught the eye, however, wasn’t even one of their permanent players. Victor Camarasa was the club’s joint top scorer with five goals during the 2018/19 season, enough to prompt duo ?Wolves and ?West Ham to fancy bringing the Real Betis player back to the ?Premier League.

His one-year loan stint in Wales seems to have done him some favours according to the ?Daily Mail, with a possible return to England on the cards.


Inter Unsurprisingly Don’t Agree With Manchester United’s Valuation of Matteo Darmian

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-SOLSKJAER

For the 100th time there are suggestions that Darmian might return to Italy with ?Inter, yet again, willing to offer the right back a one-way ticket out of his miserable four-year stint at Old Trafford.

?FC inter News state that the Serie A outfit are back in towards 29-year-old Darmian who has mustered just 14 league appearances in the past two seasons.

Naturally, United are keen on a refund for the player they paid £12.7m for but the €10-12m they’re asking for is double Inter’s valuation. Poor, poor Darmian, although with the player earning €3m net maybe he could fund the move himself? Ha, fat chance.


Arsenal Eyeing Goalkeeping Reinforcements With Unknown Bundesliga 2 Player

Markus Schubert

Hats off if you had heard of Markus Schubert before you just read his name, because you clearly know too much about football. Or, you are a Dynamo Dresden fan.

Petr Cech’s departure from not just ?Arsenal but playing football entirely is just one match away, and Unai Emery is keen on making a swift move to replace the legendary Czech by scooping up the 20-year-old on a free transfer, according to ?Bild.? Schubert has run down his deal with Dresden therefore offers the Gunners with the kind of move that suits their pitiful transfer budget.

Highly regarded in his native Germany, the goalkeeper made 43 appearances for the second-tier side this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in the process.


Barcelona Toying With the Option of Filipe Luis as Jordi Alba Backup

FBL-ESP-LIGA-GETAFE-ATLETICO

Blessed with talent across the pitch, it’s hardly like ?Barcelona need to go gung-ho in signing players worth upwards of £60m. Except, they already have, and, it looks likely that they will again.


?Well, either way, there is no need to spend any more money in transfer fees if 
?Sport are to be believed – with the club are mulling over the free signing of Filipe Luis who is set t leave ?La Liga rivals ?Atletico. The Brazilian left back is out of contract with Los Rojiblancos and seeking a new challenge, so bench warming at the Camp Nou might tickles his tastebuds.

Alba is unquestionably the number one but, even at 33 years old, Luis would offer the Spaniard a chance for a rest every now and then after several seasons of solid displays in the top leagues.


Bayern Munich Have ‘Agreement in Principle’ for Everton’s Forgotten Man Henry Onyekuru

FBL-EUR-C1-PORTO-GALATASARAY

?Everton are crying out for a talented, goalscoring forward, but have seemingly failed to see what is right in front of them. 

Onyekuru joined from Eupen back in 2017 for £7m before immediately being sent on loan to Anderlecht. There, he netted ten times before Galatasaray took note of the Nigerian’s ability and he joined them for the 2018/19 campaign.

He has torn it up in the Super Lig, netting 12 league goals in 26 games, showcasing a real eye for goal. Now, Kewse Sports’ ?Colin Udoh claims ?Bayern have an ‘agreement’ to sign the player and that a deal is ‘close’. You don’t get pinched by the Bundesliga champions if you’re rubbish, yet still Marco Silva would prefer to persist with Cenk Tosun up front. Go figure. 


Watford Striker Offered Huge Wages to Join Schalke

Dodi Lukebakio

?Watford’s Dodi Lukebakio has garnered some attention after successful loan stint for Fortuna Dusseldorf this season.

11 goals in 23 outings is a fair return for the 21-year-old Belgian, as fellow German side Schalke are looking to offer the winger a deal with significant financial benefits. SportBild, as relayed by ?Sport Witness, claim Die Knappen have ‘promised’ to blow his current €500k-per-year wages out of the water and attempt to lure him to Gelsenkirchen with a basic salary that could reach €5m.

Watford are after a €20m fee to part with the player they brought in from Anderlecht, which could act as a slight stumbling block for the Bundesliga side, however.


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