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FC Barcelona show how not to warm up for a cup final against Eibar

The champions were off the pace at Eibar

SD Eibar v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Just under a week to go until the Copa del Rey final against a Valencia side that have ended the season strongly.

In most seasons, that wouldn’t necessarily be a concern to cules convinced that the Blaugrana have the measure of the players from Mestalla.

However, in 2019, the way in which injuries have hit hard and form has tailed off, there are genuine concerns that Los Che, in their centenary year, might well do a number on Ernesto Valverde’s side.

As unpalatable as that thought is, the evidence before us is quite compelling, and against Eibar Barca were, frankly, a bit of a disaster.

One could argue that it’s a final game of the season with absolutely nothing to play for, but that’s not entirely true.

Any team worth their salt, with a cup final ahead of them, ensure that their staff are playing for their places. The status quo can (and must) be changed at the 11th hour if players aren’t giving 100 per cent.

Arturo Vidal can be excused, again, after a tireless, hard-working display, whilst he and his colleagues have Lionel Messi to thank for the Blaugranes being able to claim a point at a ground where they’ve always won... but probably deserved to lose on the day.

Jose Luis Mendilibar deserves great credit for the way he set his team up positionally, and for the tireless way in which they pressed Barca. At times, the visitors looked out of sorts and tired.

Valencia will set up in much the same way and play on the front foot too, and it’s unlikely they’ll be as forgiving in their finishing at the Benito Villamarin.

There have been suggestions recently that senior players in the dressing room have stood shoulder to shoulder behind Valverde because in so doing, they believe their situation is as near to untouchable as it’s possible to be.

If there’s a grain of truth in them being ‘comfortable’ for want of a better term, it has to be nipped in the bud immediately.

We saw in Marc Cucurella a player that’s more than capable of keeping Jordi Alba on his toes, even if Eibar are playing him further forward than Barca might if they decided to bring him home.

It’s that type of competition for places that the Catalans need now. Not to have a squad populated in the main with players who are content to sit on their laurels and enjoy the fruits of their previous labour.

Particularly ahead of a cup final.

With Suarez, Arthur, Dembele and Coutinho all out and unlikely to be fit in time for the Valencia game, others had the opportunity to stake their claims but, simply put, they failed to do so. There seemed to be no direction from the bench either.

If Barca want to be successful in Seville (and again next season), they need to continuing looking forward and not back.

And if that means making some big decisions this week, on the strength of what was a poor 90 minutes, then so be it. There can’t be any passengers on this train.

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