Ernesto Valverde’s side won the league with some to spare, but disappointment in the Champions League, in which they were beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals, means that the coach’s job could hinge on success or failure in Andalusia.
Valencia, meanwhile, are seeking to cap a terrific conclusion to the season that saw them achieve a fourth-placed finish in the Primera Division, sealing Champions League football for next term in the process.
|Game||Barcelona vs Valencia|
|Date||Saturday, May 24|
|Time||8:00pm BST / 3:00pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched on ESPN 3 and ESPN Deportes. It can be streamed via ESPN Deportes+.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|ESPN 3 / ESPN Deportes||ESPN Deportes+|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast on television or available for streaming.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Defenders||Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Miranda, Gonzalez, Chumi, Todibo, Vermaelen, Roberto|
|Midfielders||Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal, Boateng, Arthur, Alena|
|Forwards||Messi, Suarez, Coutinho, Malcom|
Barcelona starting XI: Cillessen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Sergi Roberto, Busquets, Rakitic, Arthur; Messi, Coutinho.
|Defenders||Wass, Garay, Gabriel, Gaya, Lato, Piccini, Roncaglia|
|Midfielders||Coquelin, Parejo, Carlos Soler, Torres, Wass, Lee|
|Forwards||Gameiro, Mina, Sobrino, Cheryshev, Torres, Rodrigo|
Valencia are without only Denis Cheryshev, with Ezequiel Garay back in training after a recent hamstring scare.
Possible Valencia starting XI: Domenench; Wass, Gabriel, Garay, Gaya; Carlos Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Rodrigo, Gameiro.
Betting & Match Odds
Barcelona are 3/5 favourites to win the clash at Camp Nou, according to bet36. Valencia can be backed at 17/4 while a draw is 16/5.
Unity has been the key theme to Barcelona’s preparations for the Copa del Rey final, with head coach Ernesto Valverde receiving unwavering support from the club in the face of rumours that he could be jettisoned at the end of the season.
Barca’s collapse against Liverpool to exit the Champions League having held a 3-0 advantage travelling to Anfield was an embarrassing affair, yet president Josep Maria Bartomeu has stressed prior to Saturday’s match that the former Sevilla coach remains in the long-term plans of the Camp Nou club.
“I want to value someone who discreetly, with respect and intelligence, is managing our team and the progressive incorporation of new values. I am referring to Ernesto Valverde, in whom we fully trust,” he told the media on Thursday.
Gerard Pique was similarly solid in his backing of the coach as he spoke to El Pais: “It is not my job to decide because Valverde is my boss and he decides if he plays me or not.
“But what I can talk to you about is the excellent management he has with the group in these two years, how he has helped us to improve on a tactical level and the titles we have won, which we hope to expand on in the Copa final.”
It is fitting that Barcelona have such a focus on togetherness ahead of this match given they have used the entire breadth of their squad to reach the final during a furious phase at the start of the year, in which they successfully juggled responsibilities in three competitions.
So too do Valencia, and like their opponents in Sevilla, they also reached a European semi-final, losing out to Arsenal in the Europa League in both legs of their fixture.
If Barca are thinking about their squad in full, Valencia boss Marcelino has his thoughts focused on only one player.
“The key is giving Messi little to do in the game,” he said. “The problem is that although he appears sparingly, his actions have a decisive influence.”
The Argentine has scored three times in two fixtures against the Mestalla club this season, though both Liga fixtures ended in draws between the sides.
That should offer Los Che hope before Saturday’s showdown, though so should their blistering run up the league standings from 15th at the end of November to the Champions League spots.
Beating the four-time defending champions of this competition, however, may just be the biggest challenge facing Marcelino this term.