A Lionel Messi brace and goals from Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong gave Barcelona a resounding 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday night.
Ronald Koeman’s side settled quickly and dominated the ball throughout but, due to some heroics from Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon, it took them until the hour mark to bag the opener through Griezmann. Messi broke forward and laid the ball off to De Jong, before the Dutchman’s cut back was clinically finished off by ‘Grizou’ at the near post – and this was the cue for the floodgates to well and truly open.
The lead was doubled just three minutes later when Jordi Alba’s first time cross was met by a stooping De Jong, who headed in from six yards out. And it was 3-0 on 68 minutes when De Jong and Messi linked up beautifully down the right. The Argentine eventually found himself in the area and, with the aid of some magical feet, created space for himself to nonchalantly slot the ball into the bottom corner.
Alba then turned provider once more as his cut back was fired into Simon’s near post by Messi in the 72nd minute, securing a four-minute brace. Griezmann was denied a second of his own in the 86th minute when a VAR check ruled that he was offside before rounding Simon and tapping into an empty net.
But that didn’t dampen any celebrations as Barcelona ran out 4-0 winners in the final of this season’s Copa del Rey, giving Koeman his first bit of silverware as Barca manager. Now, let’s see how the champions rated…
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 6/10 – Dealt with Athletic Bilbao’s one shot on target comfortably enough. There’s not much more to report, to be honest.
Oscar Mingueza (CB) – 6/10 – Very solid defensively, staying composed against the likes of Iker Muniain. Also had a few surges forward and always tried to make an impact further up the pitch,
Gerard Pique (CB) – 8/10 – The gamble to start him on his return from injury paid off. Marshalled Inaki Williams to perfection, keeping skin tight to the striker and putting in strong but fair challenges to deny him a sniff of goal.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – 6/10 – Did a good job playing out from the back, avoiding Bilbao’s occasional high press and spraying the ball into more advanced colleagues.
Sergino Dest (RWB) – 6/10 – Practically played as a right winger as Barcelona controlled the ball. Was a little wasteful when cutting inside.
Sergio Busquets (CM) – 7/10 – Did really well to nullify the counter attack threat for the most part, breaking up play with several important ball recoveries.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) – 9/10 – Covered a staggering amount of ground on the night. Made a real impact further up the pitch where he added an extra body, linking up well with those around him. Got the assist for the first and third and was more deserving than anyone to score the second himself. An unbelievable performance.
Jordi Alba (LWB) – 8/10 – Always stayed wide and played an important part in stretching Bilbao defensively. Delivered real quality into the area and registered two assists.
Lionel Messi (RW) – 9/10 – Showed spectacular vision and invention throughout. Picked up spaces with ease as well, creating the opportunity for the first with his drive forward and scored two masterful goals to make it 3-0 and 4-0. A genius at work.
Antoine Griezmann (ST) – 8/10 – Made some lovely runs in behind Bilbao’s rigid backline. Deservedly notched the opener with a cool finish and was just offside in the build up to the disallowed goal.
Pedri (LW) – 6/10 – Drifted around and got on the ball a lot. Was very tenacious and drove his side upfield with good link up play, but wasn’t clinical enough.
Sergi Roberto (RWB) – 6/10
Ronald Araujo (CB) – 6/10
Ilaix Moriba (CM) – 6/10
Ousmane Dembele (RW) – N/A
Martin Braithwaite (ST) – N/A