This is the second Copa del Rey final in less then a month, which is also the second one for Bilbao. Marcelino’s men will be facing off Barcelona, also for the second time after Super Copa de Espana a few months ago. This will be a crucial one since Iker Muniain and Co lost in previous final. Yet, Barcelona is also eyeing the victory here. It could be their only chance to win the title this season after a bitter defeat in El Classico last weekend, which put them down to the third in the standings.
The teams’ previous matches
Bilbao had another disappointing draw result last weekend while hosting Alaves. They were held by a goalless draw. It was their fourth consecutive draw. They have been winless in the last five games too.
Barcelona’s impressive run ended abruptly in the hand of their archrival. Last weekend, they were beaten 1-2 on the road. Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos scored early before Oscar Mingueza bagged a lifeline. Unfortunately, Ronald Koeman’s side was unable to find the equaliser as Ilaix Moriba’s attempt in the final minutes only rattled the crossbar.
Marcelino Garcia Toral might have to consider deploying different formation beside 4-4-2 to end their negative trend. Such has been seemingly anticipated by their opponents as their direct football approach with long crosses and shots relying on physical prowess has failed to deliver positive results. The 4-3-2-1 is worth a try with Raul Garcia as the main frontman, supported by Iker Muniain and Inaki Williams behind him.
His counterpart, Ronald Koeman, might still be opting for 3-4-2-1. Messi, Griezmann and Dembele will still be featuring upfront. Frankie De Jong is best to play the libero role to give space for Pedri and Busquets or Ilaix Moriba in the midfield area.
Players to watch
Bilbao’s top performers lately are the former Torino man Alex Berenguer registering seven goals and three assists, il capitano Iker Muniain with five goals and three assists and Inaki Williams with five goals and assists each.
Meanwhile, apart from the indispensible Messi who has contributed 28 goals and 10 assists in La Liga and Champions League, the other key figures who are expected to make the difference either to score or provide assists are Frankie de Jong, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele plus Pedri.
Bilbao vs Barcelona Prediction
Both managers are aiming for their second title in this competition. Koeman won it once when he was at the helm of Valencia in 2008, while Marcelino did it, interestingly also with Los Ches two seasons ago. In addition, both teams have their own missions. Winning Copa del Rey might be Iker Muniain and Co’s only hope for continental competition next season while for the Catalan side, it could be a push for their revival as well as a revenge for their last meeting. It is definitely an exciting clash and the winner will be decided by penalties.