Barcelona is out to win their fifth straight Copa Del Rey title and their fourth domestic double in the last five seasons against Valencia on Saturday. No team has won more Copa Del Rey trophies than the Blaugrana, who have 30 in their trophy case. Valencia knows they will have a tough task ahead of them if they are to win their first Copa Del Rey since 2008, but a half dozen key Barca players are banged up, and that gives them hope of pulling off the upset.
The Copa Del Rey is not like other cup competitions throughout Europe. The top teams in Spain don’t participate until the last possible moment, as all sides in La Liga automatically qualify for the Round of 32. Valencia has had a much easier path to the final than their counterparts. The Bats took on the third-tier Ebro in their opener, and they faced second-tier Sporting Gijon in the Round of 16. Valencia didn’t have much trouble advancing past either team, but they needed a minor miracle to get by Getafe in the quarterfinals. Rodrigo needed to score twice in injury time to put Valencia through to the semifinals. There, he was the difference maker once again, notching the lone goal in the second leg versus Real Betis to send Valencia to the final.
It wasn’t easy for Barcelona to make it back to the Copa Del Rey final. They didn’t have much trouble with Cultural Leonesa in their first match, but they had to overcome a disadvantageous position in the next three ties. They lost the first leg to Levante in the Round of 16 and were forced to overcome that deficit, and the same thing happened against Sevilla in this stadium in the quarterfinals. Barca also had to win on the road against rivals Real Madrid in the semifinals, but they were able to turn it on in the second leg all three times, winning by a combined margin of 12-1.
Valencia lost midfielder Denis Cheryshev for the remainder of the campaign after the Russian international went down with a knee injury last month.
They might not have a center back Ezequiel Garay for this match, but midfielder Francis Coquelin is ready to go after playing in the finale last week.
The injury situation for Barcelona is much worse. Luis Suarez is unavailable after undergoing knee surgery earlier this month, and Rafinha is still rehabilitating after a major knee injury.
Ousmane Dembele and Arthur are both doubtful, while Philippe Coutinho is questionable. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Nelson Semedo have both been declared likely to play though.
Barcelona Player to Watch
This is an easy pick. Sometimes you highlight someone other than the greatest player in the world, but with injuries mounting for Barcelona -particularly among attackers-, the player to watch is Lionel Messi.
Messi cruised to a Golden Boot this season with 36 goals in 34 matches, and he was 15 goals ahead of the next closest player. He was also tied for the league lead in assists, highlighting his dominance.
Valencia Player to Watch
Rodrigo has come up large for Valencia repeatedly in this competition, and the Bats will ask him to do so one more time. He has four goals and an assist in six Copa Del Rey matches, and he tallied a goal in the final league game of the season.
Barcelona vs. Valencia Free Picks
I think the under and Valencia on the goal line are both good plays here because of Barca’s injury woes.