Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona
Competition/Round: 2021 Copa del Rey Final
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Neto, Philippe Coutinho (out)
Athletic Outs & Doubts: Oier Zarraga, Peru Nolaskoain (out), Yeray Álvarez, Yuri Berchiche, Iker Muniain (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, April 17, 2021, 9.30pm CET (Barcelona), 8.30pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3.30pm ET, 12.30pm PT (USA), 1am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Estadio de La Cartuja, Seville, Spain
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Premier Sports 1 (UK), Startimes Sports Life (Nigeria), TeleCinco (Spain), others
How to stream: ESPN+ (USA), Premier Player (UK), others
Following a painful loss in El Clásico and a full week of training in Catalonia, Barcelona have made the trip to Seville for the Copa del Rey Final against Athletic Bilbao at the Estadio de La Cartuja.
This will be the second time in two weeks that Athletic are playing a Spanish Cup title match at La Cartuja, and the 2020 Final was not one to remember for the Lions as they lost to Basque rivals Real Sociedad in painful fashion, a defeat that’s clearly affected the team’s morale.
Despite the Supercup win over Barça in January, this could end up being a disappointing season for Marcelino’s men if they lose two Cup Finals in a short space of time and finish mid-table in the league, so Athletic’s focus and intensity will be at an all-time high for this one.
So this is the challenge for Ronald Koeman and Barcelona: match Athletic’s intensity and play better football to earn the victory and the title. Barça were flying before the international break but were bad in the two games since, though the second half against Real Madrid provides some encouragement for Saturday and the rest of the league season.
This final could be either the beginning of a double-winning run to end the season on a high or a really painful night that could have a big impact on their La Liga form, so winning this is crucial. It might also be the last time Lionel Messi plays in a final for Barcelona, and the hope is that the captain has one more magical title game in him.
This is never the only trophy Barça want to win, but it’s the one they must get.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Messi, Griezmann
Athletic (4-4-2): Simón; De Marcos, Núñez, Martínez, Lekue; Berenguer, Vencedor, García, Muniain; R. García, Williams
For some reason I am stupidly confident for this one: 4-1 Barça and a performance for the ages.