In the last ever official match at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, Barcelona will meet unlikely finalists Alaves on Saturday with cup glory firmly in sight.
While Alaves have never played in the Copa del Rey final, Barcelona are bidding to record their record 29th win in the competition.
Luis Enrique will hope to sign off his Barcelona career with Copa del Rey success, after being pipped to the league title by Real Madrid. Barca have won the cup in Luis Enrique’s previous two seasons in charge, and are huge favourites to beat Alaves – playing in the final for the first time – in the final on Saturday.
Barcelona must do without Luis Suarez for the Copa del Rey final, after he was sent off for two late yellow cards in the semi-final second-leg against Atletico Madrid. Sergi Roberto was also sent off in that game, but may have missed the final anyway with an achilles problem. Aleix Vidal returned to training this week, but will not feature in the final, while Jeremy Mathieu, Rafinha and Javier Mascherano are all also out injured. Gerard Pique is fit again, however, and will return at centre-back. Luis Enrique will have to choose between Arda Turan and Paco Alcacer to replaces Suarez, with the latter seemingly leading the battle,
Lionel Messi has 53 goals and 18 assists to his name in 2016/17, including scoring four in the Copa del Rey so far.
Barcelona finished the season with six consecutive victories, but it was not enough to win the La Liga title for a third consecutive year. A 3-2 win in El Clasico had given them a fighting chance, but despite a 7-1 win against Osasuna and more success against Espanyol, Villareal, Las Palmas and Eibar, Barca had to settle for second place. Their last match of the season saw them come from 2-0 down in the final half-hour to win 4-2 against the latter.
Expected Line-up: 4-3-3
Goalkeeper- ter Stegen
Defenders- Digne, Pique, Umtiti, Jordi Alba
Midfielders- Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta
Forwards- Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Mauricio Pellegrino will be unable to use center backs Victor Laguardia and Rodrigo Ely, who both have injuries ruling them out of the action.
Four of Edgar’s eight goals this season have come in the Copa del Rey.
Alaves finished the La Liga season with a 1-1 draw at Leganes to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches – a sequence which saw them beat Celta Vigo 3-1, Athletic 1-0 and Real Betis 4-1.
Expected Line-up: 4-2-3-1
Defenders- Kiko, Alexis, Feddal, Hernandez
Defensive Midfielders- Llorente, Garcia
Attacking Midfielders- Edgar, Camarasa, Ibai Gomez
Barcelona vs Alaves Head to Head Record
Alaves’ shock 2-1 win at the Nou Camp in September, in their first La Liga meeting with Barcelona since being promoted back to the top flight, is their only victory against the Catalan giants in their last 11 fixtures. Barca got revenge with a crushing 6-0 win in the reverse fixture, however. Prior to Alaves’ return to the top flight this year, the two teams met each other in both the 2006/07 and 2012/13 Copa del Rey, with Barcelona winning home and away on both occasions.
Barcelona vs Alaves Prediction
Barcelona won 6-0 the last time the two teams met, and while the score on Saturday is unlikely to be so comprehensive, it shows the magnitude of the task faced by Alaves. Barcelona will want to win in Luis Enrique’s final game, and are easily good enough to do exactly that.
Predicted Scoreline: Barcelona 3-0 Alaves
Barcelona vs Alaves Betting Tips and Odds
Barcelona are 1/7 with Bet365 and William Hill to win on Saturday, highlighting the task facing Alaves on Saturday. Alaves are a massive 20/1 to win with Ladbrokes, while the draw is 15/2 with the same bookmaker.
Both teams to score has been set at 11/10 for yes and 4/6 for no, while Lionel Messi is 9/4 to score the first goal with both Bet365 and William Hill.
Barcelona may have lost their La Liga title, but a Copa del Rey win is well within their grasp.