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The Rewind

The Rewind: Barcelona 5-2 Valencia, 2019/20

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

As Barcelona ready themselves to face Valencia in round 14 of La Liga, join us as we reminisce the Catalans’ 5-2 win over Los Ché from the 2019/20 season in this episode of The Rewind


Match Background

Barcelona were on one of their most peculiar starts to a season ever. On opening night, the Catalans lost to Athletic Club Bilbao thanks to an iconic last-minute acrobatic effort from the legendary Aritz Aduriz. They followed this up with a morale-boosting 5-2 victory over Real Betis in the Camp Nou which should have sparked the return to their usual selves, but it was not to be.

In Pamplona, against newly-promoted Osasuna, Ernesto Valverde’s men dropped points again and headed into their game against Valencia with just four points from a possible nine. Despite being marred with injury in the front line, the Blaugrana swept Los Che aside on Albert Celdades’ managerial debut. This was a clash many saw as the return to the Barça way of playing, and the rebirth of Valverde into the manager, the supporters, had always wanted him to be.

Lineups

Barcelona

ter Stegen
Semedo · Pique · Lenglet · Alba
de Jong · Busquets · Arthur
Perez · Griezmann · Fati

Valencia

Cillessen
Wass · Gabriel · Garay · Gaya
Torres · Parejo · Coquelin · Guedes
Rodrigo · Gameiro

First Half

Following his goal on his full league debut against Los Rojillos a weekend prior to this tie, Ansu Fati got a well-deserved start in El Txingurri’s starting eleven, and he rewarded him by opening the scoring just two minutes into the game.

Having carved Valencia’s defence open through some vintage passing reminiscent of the Barcelona of old, Sergio Busquets found Frenkie de Jong on the edge of the box. The Dutchman lifted his head, spotted Ansu, and played the decisive pass into the penalty box. Frail as he seemed at the time, the sixteen-year-old unleashed a thunderbolt of a strike that went past an utterly defenceless Jasper Cillessen on his return to the Camp Nou to make it 1-0.

The fans at Camp Nou were ecstatic to have seen another gem rise through the academy, then he would take their breaths away once again just five minutes later. Like a swarm of bats, Los Murciélagos crowded around Ansu in the penalty box. He manoeuvered his way through them and played a cutback into de Jong, whose one-time effort found the back of the net for his first Barcelona goal.

Frenkie de Jong barcelona valencia
A fantastic display from Fati was rewarded with a goal. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/Getty Images)

Fati had just become the youngest footballer to both score and assist in the same La Liga game, and with his newfound confidence, he sought after an unlikely first-half brace. He nearly put the game to bed in just the 20th minute, however, his curling strike was just inches away from rattling Cillessen’s net.

Completely against the run of play, Valencia got back into the game. Following some sensational one-touch passing, Francis Coquelin found Rodrigo Moreno a few yards from the “D”. He lacerated the Barça defence with a through ball to Kevin Gameiro, and the French international tucked it home to halve the deficit.

First Half: Barcelona 2-1 Valencia

Second half

No sooner had the second half begun than Barcelona extended their lead. Having scored two in the rout against Betis, Antoine Griezmann nearly got his third for Barça six minutes into the second period. He unleashed a fierce effort into the bottom right corner, but Cillessen made a mess of it, deflecting it onto the goal only for Gerard Piqué, of all people, to pounce on the loose ball to make it 3-1.

Griezmann barcelona valencia
Griezmann was unlucky to not get on the scoresheet. Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Nelson Semedo had a go from the edge of the box, but to his dismay, his wonder-strike hit the frame of the bar and was erratically cleared by Daniel Wass.

With an hour gone, Ansu Fati went off the pitch and was graced with a standing ovation from the appreciative home crowd. His performance on the night had won the hearts of many, and on his exit, the fans were equally supportive of the return of Luis Suárez, who missed the previous two games with an injury.

With his first touch of the game, the Uruguayan extended Barça’s lead. Arthur Melo left the ball at Suárez’s feet at the edge of the box. Oddly enough, not a single Valencia player challenged him and left with all the time and space in the world, El Pistolero first feinted a shot then followed it up with a curling effort that bounced off the frame of the bar and into the net to make it 4-1. There were shades of Ronaldinho’s golazo against Chelsea from 2005 written all over that wondrous strike.

Luis suarez Barcelona valencia
Luis Suarez came on and ran the show after coming on. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/Getty Images)

With the game essentially done and dusted, Suárez doubled his tally in the 82nd minute. Following Iván Rakitić’s deflected strike from the edge of the box, the ball fell at Griezmann’s feet. The Frenchman laid the ball on a plate for Suárez, and without hesitation, he hammered the ball into the net to put the final nail in the coffin.

Denis Cheryshev played a cross into Maxi Gomez who scored in stoppage time, but his effort was worth nothing more than a consolation goal. Revenge for the Copa Del Rey final loss was more than exacted, as Barcelona hammered Valencia by five goals to two.

Full Time: Barcelona 5-2 Valencia

The beautiful game brings to all who enjoy it a plethora of emotions and my way of giving back to it is through my writing. I am here not only to share my insight on the club I hold closest to my heart but also to gain knowledge from my fellow writers.

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The Rewind

The Rewind: Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao 3-1, 2015 Copa del Rey Final

Jan-Michael Marshall

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Photo via Imago

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. 


Match Background

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.

Lineups

Luis Enrique lined up Barcelona with his favoured starting eleven: 

ter Stegen
Dani Alves · Pique · Mascherano · Alba
Rakitic · Busquets · Iniesta
Messi · Suarez · Neymar

Ernesto opted for his preferred 4-4-2 shape with the following:

Iago Herrerin
Bustinza · Etxeita · Laporte · Balenziaga
Iraola · San José · Beñat · Mikel Rico
Aduriz · Inaki Williams

First Half

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.

The greatest. (Photo via Imago)

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

Second Half

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.

El Capita. (Photo via Imago)

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.

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