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It’s Valencia vs Barcelona in the Copa Final

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Marcelino’s men won 1-0 at the Mestalla.

Villarreal CF v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League Semi Final: First Leg Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There will be a Valencian side in the Copa del Rey final for the first time since the 2007-08 competition. Valencia defeated Real Betis 1-0 today at the Mestalla to progress to the final following a 2-2 draw in Andalusia.

It was a workmanlike performance by the home side; for those of us who remember Marcelino’s Villarreal teams, it was very familiar. Concede roughly two-thirds of the possession? Check. Use direct counterattacks? Check. Defend in mass in your own half? Check. Get a good goalkeeping performance? Check. Oh, and Marcelino being his animated self along the sideline? Check. (I think he’s got more of a bald spot now, though it’s still small—I could be wrong).

The only goal of the match came 10 minutes into the second half from one of those counterattacks, Rodrigo finishing off a pass from Gamiero with the Betis defense all in a muddle. It was the only shot on target Valencia had all night, but the only one they needed. Betis left huge gaps at the back as they pressed forward in search of an equalizer and Gamiero’s heavy touch prevented what would have surely been a second goal, but no one cared.

Betis were decent, but no more than that; I can’t say as Valencia had to get out of second gear too often, as they looked quite comfortable throughout. Ex-Villarreal canterano Jaume Doménech was strong in goal, and Betis’s best chance was a Loren header that went wrong side of Jaume’s far post. Dani Parejo and Cristiano Piccini particularly impressed me in addition to Jaume.

Interestingly, while there have been three Valencian Community teams in the final of the Copa del Rey (Valencia have been there 16 times, winning 7) neither of the other current Primera sides from the Comunitat Valenciana, Villarreal or Levante, have made it that far. (Levante did win a “Cup of Free Spain” in 1937, but that’s not considered to be the same thing).

This will be the first time Valencia and Barcelona have met in the final since 1971, when Barca won 4-3 in extra time. Ex-Villarreal manager Paquito was in the Valencia lineup that day.

And so, now we get to forget all about this competition for almost three months—the final will be May 25th!!