Strange as it might sound, the success of Football Club Barcelona’s season rests firmly on the Copa del Rey final.
The hopes of Barca fans the world over were smashed like a glass dropped from a skyscraper last week as the overwhelming favourites went down without a fight against Roma in Italy and were subsequently knocked out of the Champions League.
With the ultimate goal of a treble out of reach an angry mob of fans gathered to voice their displeasure on forums and social media worldwide. Armed with proverbial pitchforks and fire, the calls for coach Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu to leave the club were deafening but there is still something to be salvaged from this season.
The league title is seemingly all but a formality at this point but in order for this season to be considered anything but a failure, Barcelona must get the job done against Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Sevilla will undoubtedly present a tough challenge though. Their season may have featured a series of peaks and valleys thus far but with the team out of both the La Liga title race and the Champions League it’s fair to say this game will be one they are firmly focussed on winning.
The much-maligned Valverde’s tactics have been a hot topic of conversation amongst fans and media alike since the loss to Roma and in a move that seemed quite out of sorts and ultimately more reactionary than usual, Valverde deviated from his customary tactics against Celta Vigo. In resting a plethora of regular starters in preparation for the Copa del Rey final Valverde is clearly well aware that the assessment of his first season as coach rests on this result.
The recent run of form for Barcelona may include a record 40 straight league games without loss but results aside the Blaugrana have been far from impressive of late. Against Sevilla their form will need to improve. Despite their own lack of good form, Sevilla have the firepower to topple some of the world’s biggest clubs as shown by their victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford last month.
With the season coming to a close, the Copa del Rey final represents more than just a trophy for Barcelona. This is the biggest game of the season for Ernesto Valverde’s men. A loss here and the season is a failure; a win and it’s an acceptable campaign and an improvement on the previous year’s efforts.