Barcelona and Athletic Club go to the Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville to fight for it in the Copa del Rey final 2020/21.
It’s one of only two trophies still offered to Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona, and with the odds stacked against them in La Liga, you can guarantee that La Blaugrana will throw everything they have to win this one.
For Athletic, this will be a chance to avenge their loss in last season’s final, which was actually only played 14 days before this one after COVID-19 tore up the calendar. They came short against Real Sociedad in that game and are anxious not to strike out again.
Mikel Oyarzabal’s penalty beat Athletic in the final 2019/20 | Soccrates Images / Getty Images
Barcelona took the victory when these sides met in the Copa del Rey final in 2015, but Athletic has a new history on its side when they won the final of the Spanish Supercopa in January.
There’s revenge, bragging and a shiny trophy at stake in this game, and here’s all you need to know about it.
Estadio de La Cartuja will host the final again Quality Sport Images / Getty Images
When is the match? Saturday 17 AprilWhat time is running? 20:30 BSTWhere is it played? Estadio de La CartujaTV channel / livestream? Premier Sports (UK), ESPN + (US)
Gerard Pique can return from injury | Soccrates Images / Getty Images
There are no concerns about new injuries for Barcelona, who remain without long-term absences Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho. Instead, the focus in the construction of this game is on whether Koeman will stick to his 3-4-2-1 attitude or not.
Sport recently suggested that Koeman could return to a 4-3-3 formation – a change that could coincide with the relapse of forward Antoine Griezmann and midfielder Gerard Pique.
Inaki Williams should return to the starting lineup | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images
Similarly, Athletic boss Marcelino should have no surprises. He remains without Peru Nolaskoain, Yuri Berchiche, Yeray Alvarez and Oier Zarraga, but most of the heavy hitters are available for selection.
Iker Muniain, Inaki Williams and Raul Garcia all got a rest last time against Alaves, so they should dare to go for this one.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; De Jong, Pique, Lenglet; Dest, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Griezmann, Messi, Dembele.
Athletic: Simon; From Marcos, Nunez, Martinez, Lekue; Berenguer, Vencedor, D Garcia, Muniain; R Garcia, Williams
© ️ #Messi ?? @ IkerMuniain10 # CopaBarça? pic.twitter.com/pQo5MHBGpb
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 16, 2021
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona (10/04)Barcelona 1-0 Real Valladolid (05/04) Real Sociedad 1-6 Barcelona (21/03)Barcelona 4-1 Huesca (15/03) PSG 1-1 Barcelona (10/03)
Athletic 0-0 Alaves (10/04) Real Sociedad 1-1 Athletic (07/04)Athletic 0-1 Real Sociedad (03/04)Athletic 1-1 Eibar (20/03) Celta Vigo 0-0 Athletic (14/03)
Athletic will be keen to avoid losing two finals in two weeks, but it is very difficult to see past Barcelona after this one.
Barça’s attack has stumbled a bit in recent weeks, but in Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele they have two of the most electric strikers around and they will be sure to cut out a handful of chances for themselves.
Koeman expects a victory | Quality Sport Images / Getty Images
Athletic’s latest form shows that they are missing in the attacking department, but it also shows how tough they have been to break down. Defensive stability could cause nightmares for Barcelona, who have recently struggled against low, compact backlines.
It’s the kind of game that can be problematic for Barcelona, but they should have enough quality to get a result here.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Athletic
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