Verdict: HT/FT Barcelona
Best Odds: 1/2
La Liga heavyweights Barcelona lock horns with this season’s surprise package Deportivo Alaves in the Copa del Rey final at Vicente Calderon determined to end a frustrating season with a trophy.
Barcelona are coming off from a rather frustrating season during which they saw bitter rivals Real Madrid win La Liga and clinch their place in the final of the Champions League. It is definitely a campaign the Catalans will be looking to put behind them as quickly as possible as they prepare to start a new chapter this summer. Before they bid farewell to head coach Luis Enrique, Barcelona are keen to prepare a proper send-off for their boss and still end the season on a high note with a trophy in their hands. Copa del Rey title is an absolute must for Barcelona as this competition remains the club’s only chance of salvaging the season with a piece of silverware. As for Luis Enrique himself, the former Barcelona midfielder leaves with two league titles won and a Champions League during his time in charge. And since that kind of a record could be a haul most coaches dream of, the tally is still insufficient for a Barcelona coach. The prospect of Athletic Club coach Ernesto Valverde taking the reins in the summer brings fresh reassurance, but there is definitely a hot summer ahead of Barcelona as club looks to head into the new season determined to inject new life into their domestic and European exploits.
Luis Suarez is suffering from injury, but his suspension would have kept him out of the final anyways, so Paco Alcacer should continue to deputise for the Uruguay forward.
Andre Gomes is expected to fill in at right-back once more instead of banned and injured Sergi Roberto, whereas Javier Mascherano could be involved after coming back from his hamstring issue.
El Glorioso have truly been one of the biggest surprises of this year’s edition of La Liga. Coming from the second tier of Spanish football Deportivo Alaves were widely expected to be involved in a relegation battle, but Mauricio Pellegrino’s men rose up to the occasion and fought their way up against the more illustrious opponents to grab a 9th-place finish in the end. Huge 24-point advantage in front of the bottom three sides is a gap enough to suggest the magnitude of Deportivo Alaves’ success in their first season back in the top tier since 1955/56 season. Not only did Alaves achieve a respectable league finish, El Glorioso also managed to grab a place in the Spanish Cup final and are one step away from living a dream. Aware they are heading into the clash as huge underdogs, Alaves will still attempt to replicate the result from their first meeting with Barca at Camp Nou this season, when they ran out 2-1 winners in La Liga clash. They did suffer a huge 6-0 defeat in the reverse leg at home though with Barcelona exerting their revenge, but Pellegrino’s men have nothing to lose in the forthcoming match and will be extremely dangerous.
The nominal visitors will hope influential defender Victor Languardia will manage to shake off his knee injury, but he is unlikely to be risked anyway.
In the meantime, fellow defenders Rodrigo Ely and Einar Galilea are definitely ruled out through injury, together with midfielder Sergio Llamas.
Key Factors to Consider
- Barcelona have ended la Liga season with seven wins on the trot
- Deportivo Alaves are unbeaten in their last seven matches as well
- El Glorioso kept a clean sheet in only 2 of their last 10 matches
- There were over 3.5 goals scored in 5 of Barcelona’s last 6 games
- Alaves conceded six in their last meeting with Barcelona
Deportivo Alaves should not be taken too lightly as they have already proven this season that they are more than capable of claiming a big scalp. However, Copa del Rey is Barcelona’s last remaining opportunity to salvage the season and we expect Luis Enrique’s men to hit it hard from the off.
Verdict: HT/FT Barcelona
Best Odds: 1/2
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!