Valverde: Winning the Copa del Rey can help with Champions League pain

Ernesto Valverde really isn’t helping himself at the moment after he told a pre-match press conference that winning the Copa del Rey would help ease the pain of their Champions League elimination.

The dismal defeat to Roma is still very much fresh in the memory even though Barca are now just three points away from the league title and potentially set to do the double.

However, Valverde reckons beating Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday would be a good way of forgetting all about that miserable night in Italy.

“To win the Copa del Rey would be a good way to put the Champions League slip-up behind us,” he said.

”To win with Barcelona is an obligation, the Champions League, La Liga, the cup and this is always the way with big teams.

”The pressure is the same with other finals, you have not won the title as you still have to play the final and there are two teams involved. We maybe the favourites but you still have to play.

”In the Champions League we were favourites and we didn’t go through, I never thought when I was with Athletic that to beat Barcelona was a miracle but an oppportunity and that is what the situation is tomorrow.”

Source | Marca

Valverde’s first season in charge of Barcelona looks set to end in silverware and a double would be a great achievement.

The club may even manage an unbeaten La Liga season but there’s no denying the season will still be tainted by their failure in the Champions League.

Barcelona U19s into UEFA Youth League Final After Eliminating Manchester City

Barça won a wild shootout by the score of 5-4

FC Barcelona’s Juvenil A side are through to the final of the UEFA Youth League after a chaotic 5-4 win over Manchester City in Nyon, Switzerland. Barça will now face Chelsea’s youth team, who defeated FC Porto on penalties in the other semifinal.

Francisco García Pimienta’s boys got themselves into a very strong position but nearly gave it away, having at one point led 5-2, before just narrowly avoiding giving up their lead over 10-man City.

Carles Pérez scored within 10 minutes, though Joel Latibaeudiere got the sides level just 10 minutes after. Then Álex Collado scored to put Barça back in front, 2-1, just three minutes after, but Barcelona’s joy was short lived as Lukas Nmecha got the sides level yet again the minute after. The score was 2-2 after just 23 minutes.

That’s when Riqui Puig broke the deadlock in the Catalans’ favor yet again, and with the score at 3-2, City’s Lorenzo Gonzalez was sent off for two fouls. With a man advantage, Barcelona enjoyed perhaps their best spell of the match, through a flurry of attacks before the half. Peréz scored again and then so did Alejandro Marqués. This meant Barça went into the half with a commanding 5-2 advantage.

Barça tried to take the sting out of the game by holding the ball, but City showed great determination in getting back into the game despite being a man down. Rabbi Matondo scored in the 69th to make it 5-3, and then, five minutes from time, Nmecha scored again to make it 5-4. City showed belief they could bring the game level, and Barça started losing composure, but the Catalans survived the scare.

Now, they will face Chelsea in the final.

Rakitic: I’d break another finger to win the Copa del Rey

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic reckons he’d break another finger if it meant winning the Copa del Rey on Saturday at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Rakitic is just back from surgery on a fractured finger and is expected to feature in the game against Sevilla.

The Croatian joked that he’d be happy to go through more pain if it meant Barcelona scooped the cup for a fourth consecutive season.

“The first thing I asked the doctors is when can I play again. Now I’m back and I want to do a good job in every training session,” he said.

”I like being with my team-mates and helping my team, so rest can sometimes interrupt your rhythm.

”I don’t like watching games on TV or in the stands, I get more nervous than when I’m on the field.

”Tomorrow, it’s time to grit my teeth and go into the game. If I had to break another finger to win the game, I would do that.”

Source | FourFourTwo

That’s some commitment to the cause from Rakitic, let’s hope that Barcelona can get the win without any of the players requiring surgery.

Andrés Iniesta’s Exit to China to Be Announced Next Week – Report

Barcelona’s captain will be on his way to Chongqing or Tianjin Quanjian

Andrés Iniesta will officially announce his FC Barcelona exit next week, according to several sources. Jordi Martí, who works for Cadena SER, first called attention to the fact that the Chinese channel PPTV, who holds La Liga’s rights in China, reported the deal to be done, and that Iniesta would soon join Chongqing Dangdai Lifan FC.

Jiang Lizhang, who is the majority owner of the company that controls the majority of Iniesta’s image rights, is also said to be involved in that deal. Both Mundo Deportivo and journalist Gerard Romero have said these facts put Iniesta very close to joining Chongqing.

However, Sergi Solé, writing in MD, has said that there is a chance for Tianjin Quanjian to hijack the operation. He reckons the two Chinese clubs are equally likely to land the Barcelona captain. We wouldn’t know which one he ultimately chooses until after the Copa del Rey final this weekend against Sevilla.

FC Barcelona News: 20 April 2018

Mercado: If I smack Messi I can’t go back to Argentina | AS

Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado has spoken about Lionel Messi ahead of the Copa del Rey final. He says his compatriot is the best in the world and joked that if he smacked him he wouldn’t be able to return to his homeland.

Lenglet must choose between Sevilla and Barcelona | Goal

Clement Lenglet continues to hog the headlines with the latest report claiming Sevilla are determined to keep hold of their star man. Although he is wanted by Barcelona he may prefer to remain at Sevilla where he will be guaranteed first-team football.

West Ham keen on Yerry Mina | Sport Witness

The rumours surrounding Yerry Mina are refusing to go away and a move to West Ham remains a talking point. The Colombian would apparently consider moving to east London and it sounds like a permanent deal for more than €20 million is more likely than a loan.

Petit slams Barcelona dressing room cliques | Marca

Former Barcelona midfielder Emmanuel Petit has been talking about his time at the club and reckons the dressing room was full of cliques. The Frenchman says he regrets leaving Arsenal for the Camp Nou and reckons the dressing room problems ruined team unity.

Javier Mascherano to head back to Argentina | Sport

Javier Mascherano only left Barcelona for China in January but it sounds like he could be on the move again very shortly. Apparently the midfielder has a release clause in his contract which comes into effect in November and River Plate feel they could tempt him home.

Coutinho: We have to play like Barca against Sevilla

Philippe Coutinho says the team must “play like Barcelona” when they take on Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla on Saturday.

Barcelona’s style of play under Ernesto Valverde has come in for criticism and the team have also been far from their best since the international break.

Saturday provides Barca with the chance to complete the first half of a domestic double and Coutinho is looking forward to it.

“I came here to play these types of matches and win titles. Being able to play a final is a very important and very happy moment,” he said.

“The days leading up to it are experienced with an eagerness to play, they are great moments and I am anxious for it to arrive. It’s my first chance to play a final with Barça and I’ll do everything that depends on me so we can play a great game.”

”In a final you never know what can happen, it’s all different. It will be a great game and we have to play like Barça and look at our goals, always trying to win.”

Source | FC Barcelona

Coutinho is expected to start the game at the Wanda Metropolitano as he seeks his first silverware with his new club.

How will Barcelona line up against Sevilla?

Barcelona take on Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Ernesto Valverde set to welcome back several players after resting them in midweek.

The club have won the Copa del Rey for the last three years and are hoping to lift the trophy for a fourth consecutive season.

With the league title just three points away the club could claim the double in just over a week if they beat Sevilla on Saturday and Deportivo next Sunday.

With that in mind let’s have a look at who Valverde may go with on Saturday.

Defence

Barcelona v Getafe - La Liga
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Jasper Cillessen should start in goal and replace Marc-Andre ter Stegen as he’s been the Copa keeper this season. Ter Stegen has been amazing but Cillessen hasn’t let Barca down in this competition and will hope to pick up another winners’ medal.

Into defence and the only real question mark is at right-back although it looks as though Sergi Roberto will get the nod over Nelson Semedo. Otherwise, expect Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba to return after being rested against Celta Vigo.

Midfield

FC Barcelona v AS Roma - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Leg One
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ivan Rakitic has been declared fit after surgery on a broken finger and should return, Sergio Busquets is also expected to be fit.

Andres Iniesta should also feature in what will probably be his last ever Copa del Rey game. Speculation has claimed he will announce his plans for the future after the game, with a move to China now looking the most likely option.

All of which leaves a spot on the right and that’s likely to go to Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian was subbed after an hour against Celta and will probably get the nod over Ousmane Dembele.

Attack

Real Betis v Barcelona - La Liga
Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

It would be a huge surprise if it was anything other than Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack. Messi loves to score in finals and has found the back of the net in four Copa del Rey finals already. Suarez, meanwhile, had to sit out last year’s win due to suspension which may make for some extra motivation this time around.

Likely starting XI: Cillessen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez.

That’s how Barcelona may line-up but who do you think SHOULD feature on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts and preferred line-ups in the comments below!

Ruggeri: Messi Should Only Play One More Game Before World Cup

The World Cup hero thinks Messi should be focused almost exclusively on Russia

Argentina World Cup hero Oscar Ruggeri has advised Lionel Messi to play only one more game with Barcelona this season, and rest up for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Ruggeri said he considers the La Liga title “already won,” so following the Copa del Rey final, the player should focus solely on the World Cup. There are five more league matches left after this weekend’s cup final.

“Messi can call Barcelona president and tell him ’this is my World Cup; I’m going to dedicate myself to the national team,’” the former Boca Juniors, River Plate, and San Lorenzo defender told 90 Minutes Fox.

Ruggeri won the 1986 edition with Diego Maradona, a player Messi has often been compared to.

“Before Mexico 1986 we had 65 days to focus,” he continued on, “65 days before the World Cup we were all together. What do you think the rest of the players are going to do if Messi goes with the coach?”

Following Atlético Madrid’s loss to Real Sociedad, FC Barcelona need to win only one more game of the remaining five to win the title. Barça can also be crowned champions by drawing three of the five.

Barcelona wonderkid Xavi Simons scores amazing solo goal

Barcelona wonderkid Xavi Simons may only be 14 but he’s already attracted plenty of headlines in his young career.

The teenager plays for Barcelona’s Cadete B side and produced a glorious solo goal which is pretty impressive you have to say. Check it out.

He can also be far more direct as shown by this recent effort which he’s posted to his Instagram account:

Simons is some talent let’s hope he lives up to all the hype.

Barcelona Need Only Three More Points to Win La Liga Title

Barcelona could be champions either right before el clásico, or as a result of winning it.

After Atlético Madrid’s loss to Real Sociedad, Barcelona only need three more points to be crowned league champions. They need to win at least one game, or draw at least three, to win the La Liga title.

Juanmi (twice) and Willian José got the goals for La Real as they won 3-0 over Atléti.

Potentially, Barça could win the title as early as the next league match, April 29th against Deportivo La Coruña. That would mean they would play Real Madrid with the league already decided, setting up the opportunity for a famous pasillo before the match. Madrid coach ZInedine Zidane has said he will break longstanding tradition and not give a pasillo.

Should Barça fail to win against Depor, the Catalans could win the league by winning el Clásico.

The remaining games after that are against Villarreal, Levante, and Real Sociedad.