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Copa Del Rey / European Soccer / Spanish

Valencia have won the Copa del Rey

Barcelona were denied an unprecedented fifth successive Copa del Rey crown as they lost 2-1 to Valencia in Saturday’s final, heaping the pressure on under-fire coach Ernesto Valverde.

Having had a realistic chance at a treble just a few weeks ago, Barca finish the season with only the league title to show for their efforts, a situation likely to increase Valverde’s unpopularity among supporters.

Valencia players celebrate as the referee, Undiano Mallenco, blows the final whistle in the Spanish cup final. Photograph: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters

Barca were way off their best in the first half at the Benito Villamarin and deservedly found themselves trailing 2-0 at the break, as Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno clinically punished the defending champions.

Valverde’s men pushed forward desperately after the break and Lionel Messi pulled one back shortly after being denied by the post, but their dominance proved futile as Valencia held on to win the Copa for the first time since 2008.

What does it mean? Valverde’s future surely in doubt

f Valverde’s popularity was not already a matter for debate, it certainly is now. With a LaLiga and Copa double, you could justifiably see him hanging on to the job for another season, but now things look a little cloudier, particularly given the increasing fan criticism of his leadership.

Arguably the only thing saving him at the moment is Messi’s apparent backing.

Key Opta Facts:
  • Valencia are the second team to win the Copa del Rey title in the same year they celebrate their 100th anniversary, after Espanyol in 2000.
  • Lionel Messi has become the first player in Copa del Rey history to score in six different finals (seven goals).
  • Valencia have won their eighth Copa del Rey title, the first one since 2008.
  • Barcelona have lost the first one-legged final in which Lionel Messi has scored (16 goals in 13 finals).
  • Valencia’s Marcelino has won his first managerial game against Barcelona in all competitions, after 21 matches (W1 D6 L14).

Kevin Gameiro (left) scores Valencia’s opening goal against Barcelona. Photograph: Miguel Morenatti/AP

What’s next?

Given they finished the season with just one trophy, a big close-season awaits Barca. There are doubts about Valverde’s suitability, while their squad is short in a number of areas, such as centre-forward and full-back.

As for Valencia, if they can keep hold of their star players and bolster their squad for the Champions League, they will be confident of another promising campaign next term.

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