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 (6), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Alba (5); Rakitic (6), Busquets (6), Arthur (6); Roberto (5), Messi (8), Coutinho (5). 

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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Dani Alves Backs Neymar to Stay at Paris Saint-Germain Rather Than Return to ‘Ego-Guided’ Barcelona

?Dani Alves has claimed that Neymar is ‘very obsessed’ with winning and admitted that the Brazilian is ‘not happy’ at PSG, but insisted he expects his teammate to stay put in the French capital.

Having regularly been the subject of transfer speculation since completing his move from Barcelona to the Parc des Princes in 2017, Neymar’s future with the Ligue 1 champions is likely to be called into question once more this summer.


Thomas Tuchel’s side have continued to struggle in their bid to conquer Europe, with their dominance in French football yet to be translated into Champions League success, and those shortcomings are set to further increase questions over ?Neymar‘s future.

Speaking to ?ESPN, Dani Alves said of his PSG teammate, with whom he played at Barcelona: “He’s in transition, because he’s not getting the results he wants. And he’s very obsessed about it and he always wants to be on top.

“Therefore, if he doesn’t make it, it would be clear that he’s unhappy. He must take advantage of his time off and his vacation and reflect on what he can do in order to be a bigger player than he already is and to reach a much better place than the one he is in right now.

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“He is not happy, since he didn’t get the results he wanted and that brings him unhappiness. I would beat the crap out of him if he feels happy without winning.”

Asked whether he would bet a dinner on Neymar remaining at PSG next season, Alves added: “A dinner is not enough. Should I bet the Eiffel Tower? I believe that he will stay with PSG.”

On speculation linking the attacker with a move to ?Real Madrid, Alves said of his compatriot: “If Madrid calls me, I’d say no. And if they call me to ask me about Neymar, I’d say no as well.”

Speaking of a potential return to Barcelona for Neymar, Alves responded: “I think it’s very difficult. People inside Barca, I think, won’t be willing to acknowledge that they need him. And that’s a problem, you can’t go anywhere guided by your ego.

“You can’t let your ego dictate your life. Barca has that problem and they won’t recognise that they need him and that already drives him away from Barca. Which side doesn’t need Ney? Everyone needs Ney.”

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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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