Valverde on Copa final, Pique and busy JanuaryFebruary 9, 2018
Ernesto Valverde has discussed his side’s win over Valencia on Thursday, which booked their fifth Copa del Rey final in a row.
Luis Suarez’s close range header in the second half in the first leg at the Camp Nou last week gave Barca a slender advantage to take to Valencia but Los Che were by no means out of the tie.
The best chance of the first half fell the way of Valencia when Rodrigo saw his header come crashing off the underside of the bar with Jasper Cillessen in the away goal beaten all ends up.
Barca went close through a Lionel Messi free kick which was beaten away by Jaume Domenech with Luis Suarez getting into dangerous positions in the first half without causing any real trouble for the Valencia keeper.
The breakthrough finally came after four minutes of the second half and it was a first goal for the club for Barcelona new boy Philippe Coutinho.
Luis Suarez turned Ezequiel Garay inside out on the left before bending the ball to the back post where the stretching Coutinho was on hand to divert the ball back across Jaume into the corner of the net leaving the hosts needing three to progress.
Messi burst into the box trying to make it two but was thwarted by a combination of Garay and Jose Gaya with the Argentine picking up an injury in the process and despite the ball falling to Ivan Rakitic, the Croatian was unable to hit the target with his shot.
Valencia almost got an equaliser on the night but were denied thanks to a world class save from Cillessen.
Goncalo Guedes showed great feet to get the better of Sergi Roberto before dinking the ball to Carlos Soler at the back post who nodded down to Gaya inside the six yard box who headed the ball towards goal but was somehow denied thanks to outstanding reflexes from the Barca keeper.
With eight minutes to go however the game was put out of the reach of the hosts as Barca scored a second.
Gabriel Paulista lost the ball to Suarez who ran clear to find Rakitic on the edge of the area and the midfielder made no mistake in firing past Jaume to seal Barca’s place in the final.
“Barca are used to reaching Finals and playing in them, me not so much,” the Coach said after the game.
“I’m very happy, given it’ll be the fifth consecutive Final for these players, something that’s very difficult to repeat and repeat.
“We thought it’d be very difficult and it was, but we’re going home with tickets to the Final in our pockets.
“We thought they’d give us the ball and they did. They wanted to win the ball back from us and hit us on the break.
“We were able to find players in space and take advantage. We tried it with Messi, Iniesta, etc… We had to try and it went well. We won so we’d reach the Final.
“We found it difficult against Celta and Espanyol and now we have against Valencia. We had a busy January.
“Pique? He felt a strain coming on and we decided that the best thing was to take him off.”
Barca now prepare to face Getafe at the Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon in league action.