As Barcelona prepare themselves to face Real Valladolid, their final away game after a nightmare year on the road, join us as we reminisce the Catalans’ 4-1 win in the Camp Nou from the 2013-14 season in this episode of The Rewind.
While the 5-1 victory in the Nou Camp last season may be fresher in supporters’ minds, Barcelona obtained an equally memorable result in Tata Martino’s solitary season in a match where the locals won by a score of four goals to one.
A Messi-less Barca on the back of an eight-game winning streak won thanks to a sensational individual performance from Neymar Jr, a brace coupled with an assist from Alexis Sánchez on either side of Xavi Hernández’ strike early in the second half.
Alves · Pique · Bartra · Adriano
Xavi · Song · Fabregas
Sanchez · Neymar · Tello
Rukavina · Rueda · Valiente · Peña
Ebert · Rossi · Baraja · Bergdich
Guerra · Ramos
In spite of the clear difference in quality between the two, it was Real Valladolid that hit the back of the net first. Julio Iricibar played an in-swinging corner into the penalty box, and having done a poor job at making his opponent, Marc Bartra could only stand and watch as Javi Guerra’s towering header made its way into the back of the net.
Following his mistake, Bartra took it upon himself to get the equalizer and nearly succeeded in the 9th minute. The Spaniard went on a remarkable solo run from the centre of the pitch and once on the edge of the box, he unleashed a powerful strike that took a stunning stop from Diego Mariño to keep the score at 0-1.
For all their dominance, an equaliser was certainly on the cards, and it came via a sumptuous strike from Alexis Sánchez. With the Catalans on a quick break, Neymar Jr found himself essentially alone in his half. Galloping forward was Sánchez who, once with the ball at his feet, gave the keeper no chance as his scorcher from outside the box hit the roof of the net to restore parity in the match.
It was end to end stuff, and a lack of defensive clarity almost got Valladolid back in the lead. Julián Omar went on a solo run, lacerating the Blaugranas‘ defence with his quick feet. Having spotted Zakarya Bergdich pacing into the vacated space, he played a cutback into the Frenchman’s path, though to his dismay he failed to profit off of the occasion, as he guided his shot wide off the mark.
Neymar nearly got his side 2-1 up after a solo run, however, despite having cut open the Blanquivioletas’ defence, his 3ffort at goal went wide off the mark. Moments later in a similar sequence of events, the Brazilian thought he was tripped in the potty box, however, his claims for a spot-kick fell on deaf ears, as the referee waved play on.
The half ended with Barcelona firmly in control of proceedings, and if not for some poor luck in the final third, they easily could have gone into the break two goals to the good.
Half Time: Barcelona 1-1 Real Valladolid
Given all their efforts in the first half, the Garnet and Blue were duly rewarded with a goal in the 52nd minute. Neymar was once again involved, as following yet another sensational dribble, the Barcelona number eleven found Christian Tello unmarked on the box’s width. The Spaniard made a one-time pass into the box for Xavi into the box, and the World Cup winner tapped the ball into the net to deservedly get Barcelona into the lead for the first time in the game.
Tello nearly made it three just five minutes later, however despite having caught the goalkeeper completely off-guard, his long-range effort bounced off the crossbar and was subsequently cleared by the visitors’ defence.
A third goal was soon on its way, and Neymar once again had his name written all over it. He tore Valladolid’s defence apart for the umpteenth time in the match, and having gotten rid of them, he played a through ball into Sánchez’ path, and the Chilean applied the finishing touch, guiding the ball past a rushing Mariño to make it 3-1.
It was due time for Neymar to get on the scoresheet himself. Barcelona played some of their trademark intricate passing, and at the end of the move Xavi had set up Sánchez for an easy tap in. Owing both his goals to the Brazilian, Sánchez laid the ball on a plate for Neymar, who cooly dispatched his shot and ended the scoring as Barcelona won by four goals to one.
Full Time: Barcelona 4-1 Real Valladolid
The Rewind: Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao 3-1, 2015 Copa del Rey Final
As Barça prepare to take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final, join us as we look back at the last time these two teams played each other in the final.
Barcelona will be looking for their sixth Copa del Rey title in ten years as they face off against Athletic Bilbao later tonight. It is the third time the two sides have played each other in the final this decade, with Barça winning both previous encounters. Nevertheless, Athletic Bilbao have had the upper hand against Barcelona recently in cup competitions. Earlier this year, they defeated them in the Supercup final, and in 2020, they knocked them out of the Copa del Rey.
Barcelona’s 2014/15 was one of their greatest seasons of all time. With signings like Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic to replenish the squad alongside new manager Luis Enrique, the Blaugrana went on to win the treble. By the time they faced Athletic Bilbao in the 2015 Copa del Rey final, they had already won La Liga and were set to play in the Champions League final the next week against Juventus.
Barça’s run in the Copa del Rey was nothing short of sensational, scoring 27 goals in eight matches as they went to their fourth final in five years. This included an 8-1 win against Huesca and a thrilling 3-2 victory against Atlético Madrid.
Athletic Bilbao were in their second final in four years. They played Barça in the 2012 final, losing 3-0 in Pep Guardiola’s farewell match. The Basque side were led by Ernesto Valverde, who would eventually take over Barcelona in 2017.
Luis Enrique lined up Barcelona with his favoured starting eleven:
Dani Alves · Pique · Mascherano · Alba
Rakitic · Busquets · Iniesta
Messi · Suarez · Neymar
Ernesto opted for his preferred 4-4-2 shape with the following:
Bustinza · Etxeita · Laporte · Balenziaga
Iraola · San José · Beñat · Mikel Rico
Aduriz · Inaki Williams
Barcelona started off by controlling possession and trying to break down Bilbao’s robust 4-4-2 shape, but their opponents were constant threats off counter-attacks. The Catalans would build up from the back with Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano, particularly looking for Lionel Messi or Dani Alves as outlets. They heavily focused on stretching Bilbao out and playing down the flanks.
Around 9 minutes in, ter Stegen was careless in the box and almost gave away possession, nearly gifting Bilbao a prime scoring opportunity. Nonetheless, in typical Barça fashion under Luis Enrique, they restored composure and, with a few quick passes, broke through Bilbao’s press. Jordi Alba progressed the ball forward and found a wide-open Iniesta. With space, the Spaniard passed to Messi, who sent a signature ball into the box to Neymar. The Brazilian had a brilliant first-time finish, but the goal was ruled offside.
Only a minute later, Suarez was one-on-one in the box but the shot parried off Bilbao’s keeper.
19 minutes in, the crowd of nearly 100,000 fans witnessed history. Dani Alves gave Messi a short pass near the halfway line. The Argentine got past his first defender, then encountered a cul-de-sac of three. With only three touches, he left them in the dust. Now near the outside of the box, he cut past another and fired the ball into the near post, scoring one of the best goals ever.
As the commentating duo of Kevin Keatings and Rob Palmer put it: “It’s one of the great Copa del Rey final goals! From the magical, mercurial Lionel Messi.”
1-0 to the Blaugrana.
It was a lead that was bound to come, but nobody could have expected such a goal.
In the 25th minute, Messi picked the ball off of a defender and set Suarez down the line; he had Neymar wide open in the box, but the pass was intercepted at the last minute. The Catalans were relentless, and Bilbao could not stop them. At this point in the game, they had over 70% of possession and more importantly, they were dangerous with it. Time after time, they had opportunities in the box: Neymar had a one-on-one and Suarez only nearly missed a cross from Alba.
With only ten minutes left in the half, there was chaos outside Bilbao’s box. Ivan Rakitic threaded a ball into the penalty area to Suarez; in a selfless move, the Uruguayan crossed it to Neymar, who doubled Barcelona’s lead. It was a well deserved second goal as Barca were simply running circles around their opponents.
Half Time: Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Bilbao
The second half was more of a balanced game, but neither side could control it. Bilbao kept the Catalans on the back foot for much of the half, preventing them from having typical long spells of possession. The Basque side made some threats but nothing came to fruition.
Ten minutes in, Andres Iniesta came off for Xavi Hernandez, who would play in his penultimate game for the club and his last in the Camp Nou.
As is the case with a squad that talented, Barcelona could create chances out of nothing. In the 72nd minute, Neymar and Dani Alves had a quick one-two that sent the right back down the wings. With his eagle-eyed passing, he sent a low cross into the box that found Messi. The Argentine hit it into the back of the net.
All of a sudden it was 3-0 and despite Bilbao’s improvement, they could not contain the Blaugrana.
Barça made their final changes a few minutes later: Jeremy Mathieu and Pedro Rodriquez for Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez.
In the 78th minute, Bilbao sent a ball into the box, and starlet Inaki Williams headed it into the back of the net. It was a deserving goal for the Basque outfit, but ultimately, it was too little too late.
The final 10 minutes or so were a back and forth affair, but Barça did more than enough to secure their lead.
The match was chippy and full of hard tackles all throughout, but that reached a climax when near the end of the game, Neymar attempted to rainbow flick past a defender. Bilbao did not react kindly to it as they pushed Neymar to the ground, interpreting it as unnecessary showboating. There was a resulting scuffle between both sides, but nothing too egregious.
In the last minute, Barça won a free kick, but Xavi hit the post.
As the full-time whistle blew, the Catalans won their record 27th Copa del Rey title and were one trophy away from winning the Treble.
Full Time: Barcelona 3-1 Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao fought valiantly throughout the game but Barça’s quality was unmatched that entire campaign. They put on a magnificent show in front of the Camp Nou, highlighted by Messi’s brilliant goal. One can only hope for a similar performance in the 2021 final.