Barcelona 1-2 Valencia: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Los Ches Stun Barça to Win Copa del Rey

​Valencia defied the odds and won their first Copa del Rey since 2008 as they edged to a 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Benito Villamarin.

Barcelona were the clear favourites heading into the clash having wrapped up La Liga title with ease and created the better chances whilst also dominating the possession, but in the end they didn’t have an answer for Valencia’s pace on the counter-attack which left them shell-shocked.

First-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno sent Los Ches into the half time break with a two-goal lead, with ​La Blaurgana coming out firing to start the second half. After squandering a number of opportunities, ​Lionel Messi got his side back into the game with a quarter of the game remaining.


Barça fought until the very end, but just couldn’t find and equalising goal as Valencia stunned the footballing world and took home the Copa del Rey crown. Here’s a breakdown of the night’s events: 


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

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Barcelona were looking to secure their fourth domestic double in five years and having won the competition in all of the last four years, they would’ve been confident heading into the final. 

Unfortunately for them things didn’t turn out the way they may have expected, with the team still appearing to be suffering from the hangover of Anfield. They had no answer to Valencia’s threat on the counter-attack and although they dominated the stats in terms of possession and shot, they couldn’t find an end product.

They would’ve been desperate for more silverware after being dumped out of the Champions League in the manner which they were, and will instead be left bitterly disappointed with Valverde’s future at the club seemingly in doubt.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cillessen (5); Semedo (5), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Alba (5); Rakitic (6), Busquets (6), Arthur (5); Roberto (5), Messi (8), Coutinho (6). 

Substitutes: Vidal (6), Malcom (7), Alena (6).

STAR MAN – Although it wasn’t to be Barcelona’s day, Messi was still their main threat on the night. He was up to his usual tricks causing havoc amongst the Valencia defence and got his side back in the game with a poacher’s finish to make it 2-1.

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​​He went close on a number of other occasions and even struck the post at the start of the second half, but unfortunately, after carrying his Barcelona teammate for the majority of the season he couldn’t carry them all the way to a cup win. 


VALENCIA

Key Talking Point


Although the odds were stacked against Valencia heading into the final, they had proven to be tough opposition for Barcelona during the season. In both ​La Liga meetings, Marcelino’s men held La Blaugrana to draws with Valverde’s men unable to get the better of Valencia, and the final followed a similar pattern.

Valencia were clinical when they needed to be and were strong in defence, the perfect recipe to upset Barcelona. Their work rate was unrelenting and their pace caused the Barça defenders all sorts of problems during the course of the game.

It was their first Copa del Rey triumph since 2008 and they thoroughly deserved it after a defiant performance on the night.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Domenech (9); Wass (6), Garay (6), Paulista (8), Gaya (7); Soler (7), Parejo (7), Coquelin (7), Guedes (6); Moreno (8), Gameiro (8). 

Substitutes: Kondogbia (6), Piccini (6), Diakhaby (N/A).

STAR MAN – It was a fine display from the whole team and a number of players could well have been recognised as the best player, but had it not been for Jaume Domenech between the sticks Valencia certainly wouldn’t have won the trophy.

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He made a number of fine saves at crucial times in the match to deny Barcelona and to keep his Valencia side in the driving seat. In the end Los Ches won by a one-goal margin, which highlights just how important Domenech’s saves were in helping his side win the cup.


Looking Ahead

It was the final action for both teams in their respective seasons and whilst both sides came away with silverware, both may be left feeling they could’ve had more.

Barcelona were​ dumped out of the Champions League having taken a commanding position in the semi-finals against Liverpool, and losing to Valencia topped off what was a very disappointing end to the season for Valverde’s men. 

As for Valencia, they’ll be delighted with the Copa del Rey win, but may feel they could’ve done better in the Europa League against Arsenal.

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7 Football Clubs Who Have Been Breeding Grounds for Top Players

In recent seasons we’ve seen a drastic increase in the amount of money being pumped into the game of football.

Players are now being sold for astronomical figures, with some of those players only needing one breakout season to earn themselves moves to some of the world’s biggest clubs. They’ve then gone on to become some of the best players in the world, but they all had to come from somewhere.

Matthijs de Ligt,Dusan Tadic,Frenkie de Jong,Donny van de Beek

Some clubs don’t necessarily get the credit they deserve when it comes to nurturing young players and giving them opportunities to break into first team setups. Here’s a look at seven clubs which have been breeding grounds for top players in recent years:


Groningen

Playing in the Dutch Eredivisie, Groningen are far from the very top of European football. But looking at the club’s alumni, you sit there and wonder why this is the case. 

They’ve had some very high profile names on their books in the past which have included Arjen Robben who has gone on to have an illustrious career, Virgil van Dijk who only recently won the PFA Player of the Year award after transforming ​Liverpool’s defence and ​Luis Suarez who is widely viewed as one of Europe’s most dangerous strikers.

Virgil van Dijk

They’ve also nurtured the likes of Daley Blind and Dusan Tadic who are both now part of an Ajax side who reached the Champions League semi-final this campaign. 

It’s an extraordinary feat for a Groningen club who have very little financial backing, but who have instead used the resources available to them to nurture these young players.


Ajax

Ajax have had a reputation of producing world-class talent for many decades now, especially in the 1990s when the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Edwin van der Sar and Patrick Kluivert all graduated from the club’s youth academy.

But this trend has continued into the new century as well, with the likes of ​Toby Alderweireld, ​Christian Eriksen and Ryan Babel all going on to have great careers after leaving the club. 

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The club’s ability to develop young players was never more evident than this season with Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek all playing key roles in leading Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals. With de Jong already signed up by ​Barcelona, both de Ligt and van de Beek look set to follow him by signing for some of Europe’s biggest clubs.


Dortmund

Another club which has become synonymous with building their team around young players, Borussia Dortmund have become experts in breeding world-class talent. The likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels and Shinji Kagawa all won a Bundesliga title together in 2012 under the age of 24, and have all gone on to have further success.

Three of the four players joined Bayern Munich where they’ve won numerous titles – with both Hummels and Lewandowski still playing their football at the Allianz Arena – but that hasn’t stopped Dortmund producing more world-class talent since.

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Players such as Marco Reus, Antonio Rudiger and Christian Pulisic all learned their trade at Signal Iduna Park, with Jadon Sancho now the next big name to come out of their youth academy and into the limelight of European football. 


Sporting CP

Other than their Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1963 Sporting CP have never won a major European title, although they have produced one of Europe’s most decorated players of all time. 

Portuguese sensation Cristiano Ronaldo learned his trade with Sporting before being signed up by Manchester United, and he has since gone on to win five Champions Leagues, six league titles across three different countries as well as a European Championship with Portugal in 2016 and five Ballon d’Ors. Not bad at all…

Cristiano Ronaldo

It’s not only Ronaldo who Sporting have produced, with players such as Joao Moutinho, Rui Patricio, Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares – who were all part of Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning team – all also originated with the club. Current star man Bruno Fernandes also looks poised for a big summer move after a stellar season.

Those players have since written themselves into Portuguese footballing folk law, and Sporting can take a lot of the credit for their success.


Anderlecht

When Manchester City signed Vincent Kompany from Anderlecht back in 2008, he proved to be one of the first of Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ – with more than a few starting their careers at the defender’s alma mater of Anderlecht.

In recent years, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Cheikou Kouyate, and Youri Tielemans have all learned their trade with the Belgian outfit before all securing moves to the Premier League.

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Lukaku established himself as one of the league’s most deadly strikers, Kouyate was a real engine in the centre of the midfield with West Ham before moving to Crystal Palace, and even though Tielemans has spent just half a season with Leicester City, there’re already rumours of a big-money move to a Champions League side coming his way this summer.


Le Harve

It’s quite hard to fathom when you look at the list of players who spent time learning their trade with Ligue 2 side Le Harve.

We’ll start with those who went on to be part of France’s World Cup winning squad in 2018, with Steve Mandanda, Benjamin Mendy and Paul Pogba all beginning their careers with the French club.

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To add to that illustrious trio both Riyad Mahrez and Dimitri Payet also started off with Le Harve before announcing themselves in the Premier League years later. Perhaps we should start paying more attention to their current crop of players.


Charlton

Whilst they haven’t quite produced World Cup winners or Ballon d’Or nominee, League One side Charlton deserve to be an honorary mention on this list. 

In recent seasons they’ve managed to produce some fine talent, with both Joe Gomez and Jonjo Shelvey being snapped up by Liverpool at the age of just 18. 

Joe Gomez

More recently Ademola Lookman and Karlan Grant have both earned moves to the Premier League after starting in the youth ranks at Charlton. Current star ​Joe Aribo too looks set for the top tiers, but only time will tell.​

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Free Agents 2020: 11 Players From Around Europe Who Will Be Out of Contract Next Summer

As we head into another summer of transfer activity we take a look at some of those stars most vulnerable to bids from rival clubs: the players who have just one year remaining on their current contract. 

This will be the last chance for their clubs to earn maximum profit on any wantaway stars or they risk losing them for nothing next summer. 

2020 will be a big summer for out-of-contract players (assuming their futures aren’t sorted out before then of course), here’s a starting XI for those deals that are set to expire in 12 months’ time.

1. GK – David de Gea – Manchester United

David De Gea

David de Gea endured his worst campaign in a Manchester United shirt last season, conceding 54 goals as his side slumped to a sixth-place finish. 

His stock has dropped a little since an equally embarrassing World Cup, but the Spaniard is still one of the best shot stoppers in the world. 

The latest gossip says United are no closer to agreeing an extension for the keeper. Real Madrid have been a firm admirer of the 28-year-old for some time and could reignite their interest after Thibaud Courtois struggled to find his feet since his switch to the Santiago Bernabeu.  

2. RB – Thomas Meunier – PSG

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The Belgian hasn’t stolen many headlines in his career but he is a top class attacking full back, which is an increasingly significant role in the modern game. 

He has even been deployed as a right winger by international manager Roberto Martinez where, as England fans may remember, he scored the opening goal in the World Cup third-place play off game. 

Premier League trio Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea have all been linked with a move for the 27-year-old this summer. 

3. CB – Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham

Toby Alderweireld

Meunier’s international team mate Toby Alderweireld is also out of contract next summer as Tottenham fans will be very aware. The Belgian has formed a key part of Mauricio Pochettino’s defence over the past four seasons. 

At 30, he appears to have become disillusioned with the club’s prospects and has been linked with a switch to Manchester United for some time. That could still come off this summer though following the events of last season, he may reconsider. 

4. CB – Stefan Savic – Atletico Madrid

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Stefan Savic may be remembered as a flop to Manchester City fans but he has firmly proved himself on the continent since leaving the Premier League. He established himself as a top defender in Serie A, earning him a switch to Atletico Madrid. 

At Atletico, he became the first Montenegrin to play in the Champions League for the best part of two decades, helping guide them to the final, before lifting the Europa League with them two years later.  

5. LB – Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham

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Ryan Sessegnon is one the most exciting young talents in the UK at the moment after two breakthrough campaigns, where he helped Fulham earn promotion in 2018. He has been moved up to a winger role but is a left back by trade and could slot back into that role at a larger club. 

After Fulham failed to secure Premier League survival in their first season, the 19-year-old is expected to depart the London club with Tottenham reportedly confident of securing his services this summer. 

6. CM – Luka Modric – Real Madrid

Luka Modric

Luka Modric is the oldest player on this list and will be 34 by the time his current contract expires. After winning his first Ballon d’Or this year though, it’s hard not to include the Croatian playmaker as one of the best available options. 

Recent reports suggest that Modric will get an extension to his current contract, so he is still likely to remain at the Bernabeu. Until he signs on the dotted line though, anything can happen.

7. CM – Ilkay Gundogan – Manchester City

Ilkay Gundogan

Ilkay Gundogan has rarely stolen the show during his time at Manchester City but he has quietly become a vital cog in Pep Guardiola’s dominant side. Fernandinho often gets the majority of the credit for making that midfield tick, but the German is more than worth his starting place in one of the best Premier League sides of all time. 

He made 41 appearances last season as his side completed a clean sweep of domestic honours, but is reportedly unsure of his future with a return to Germany mooted. 

8. RW – Willian – Chelsea

Willian

The Brazilian is possibly one of the most underrated stars in the Premier League. He’s been consistently brilliant throughout his six years a Chelsea. He perhaps shone the most during Chelsea’s disastrous 2015/16 campaign where they were let down by so many of their big name stars. 

Willian played a vital role in Chelsea’s last two most recent title-winning seasons and he won’t find himself short of suitors if the Blues decide to cash in on the 30-year-old.  

9. AM – Christian Eriksen – Tottenham

Christian Eriksen

Other than Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen is Tottenham’s most important player and unfortunately, like his teammate Alderweireld, he appears to be eyeing an exit. There was a time when Spurs were the best side in the league over a three-season period, but they failed to lift any silverware during those campaigns. 

Having since been well overtaken by Manchester City and Liverpool the moment looks to have passed and stars like Eriksen are considering their options. 

Spurs still have a Champions League final to play that could change some minds, but Real Madrid are believed to have made the Dane a top priority this summer. 

10. LW – Eden Hazard – Chelsea

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Without a doubt the most high-profile name on this list with an estimated market value of around £135m, even with just a year left on his contract. Eden Hazard can play in a variety of attacking roles and has been Chelsea’s talisman for the past seven years. 

He finished as top scorer again in the previous campaign with 19 goals in all competitions and he could have put himself in the shop window for summer. Real Madrid have also made Hazard a priority as they look for a big summer rebuild after a torrid campaign that was on par with their worst of all time. 

11. ST – Timo Werner – RB Leipzig

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The 23-year-old is one of the hottest properties in world football after playing a significant role in the meteoric rise of RB Leipzig. He already has 63 Bundesliga goals to his name and is expected to become the future of the Germany national team.  

Timo Werner has shown the potential to develop into a world class striker which has attracted the attention of several top European clubs. Bayern Munich are unsurprisingly rumoured to be considering a move for the German, while Liverpool are also long-term admirers.

Substitutes: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Stephan El Shaawary (AS Roma), Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyonnais), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Layvin Kurzawa (PSG), Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) 

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RB Leipzig 0-3 Bayern Munich: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Bavarians Secure Domestic Double

Bayern Munich beat RB Leipzig to win the DFB-Pokal in a thrilling match at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Saturday night.

Leipzig started the game on the front foot and it was no surprise when they had the first big chance. With 11 minutes on the clock, Yussuf Poulsen got a clear run at the ball from a corner and delivered a header from close range which was brilliantly saved by Manuel Neuer, who showed quick reactions to push the ball onto the crossbar. 

Timo Werner,David Alaba

They continued to be the better team in the early stages, pressing high up the pitch and restricting Bayern to speculative shots from long range whilst creating several chances of their own.

However, they started to tire after their high-octane start, allowing Bayern to grow into the game and they eventually conceding the opening goal in the 29th minute.

Robert Lewandowski’s quality header gave Bayern the lead and Kingsley Coman helped make sure of the win for Bayern in the 78th minute when he received the ball in the area and blasted it into the top corner. The goal was checked by the VAR to see if Lewandowski had impeded substitute Dayot Upamecano in the build-up but the incident was adjudged to have not been a foul and the goal stood.

Lewandowski added gloss to the scoreline in the 85th minute. Joshua Kimmich played a ball down the line and the 30-year-old striker held off Upamecano and deftly chipped the ball over Péter Gulácsi and into the net.

Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner missed great chances to score whilst Bayern also missed clear-cut opportunities through Thiago and Mats Hummels.

Bayern picked off Leipzig as Die Bullen Roten chased an equaliser. The 3-0 scoreline flattered Bayern but this final showed that once again they are the force to be reckoned with in German football. After a difficult start to the campaign, they will be delighted to have finished it with a league and cup double.

Check out our breakdown of the game below.


RB Leipzig

Key Talking Point

Manuel Neuer,Emil Forsberg

Leipzig had the opportunity to win the first ever major trophy in this final and will look back with regret after missing a number of clear-cut chances.

The worst miss of all came in the 48th minute. Forsberg was played through on goal and was one on one with Manuel Neuer but the German number one showed his trademark sweeper-keeper ability, quickly coming off his line to close down the angle and tip the ball round the post.

Whilst Neuer is renowned for making these type of actions, it was Forsberg’s poor second touch that allowed the Bayern keeper to position himself to make the save.

Ultimately Leipzig’s lack of ruthlessness cost them and moments like these were the difference between the two sides.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Gulácsi (7); Klostermann (6), Konaté (6), Orban (6), Halstenberg (6) ; Sabitzer (7), Kampl (6), Adams (6), Forsberg (5); Werner (8)*, Poulsen (6)

Substitutes: Laimer (6), Upamecano (5), Haidara (N/A)


STAR MAN –  Timo Werner was a constant threat for Leipzig throughout the match. His pace and movement running caused lots of problems for the Bayern defence.

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The 23-year-old was crucial in setting the tone for Leipzig’s high press and his runs in behind troubled Joshua Kimmich in the early stages. 

He did have an excellent chance to score in the second half when he rounded Neuer but had his shot saved by Sule but he can still take pride from his performance.

Werner has been heavily linked to Bayern and Liverpool in the past and more displays like these will undoubtedly alert many of the top European clubs.


Bayern Munich

Key Talking Point

Bayern started the game slowly but managed to gain a foothold in the game in the second part of the first half as Leipzig started to tire.

Their first goal not only changed the complexion of the tie but also swung the momentum of the game in their favour.

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Kingsley Coman played in the overlapping David Alaba, who delivered a cross which appeared to be behind Robert Lewandowski, yet the Pole did brilliantly to bend his neck and somehow guide the ball into the bottom corner.

It is the sign of Lewandowski’s world-class finishing ability that he managed to take his first chance of the game despite being starved of service up until that point.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Neuer (8); Kimmich (7), Süle (6), Hummels (6), Alaba (7), Coman (7), Thiago (6), Martínez (6), Müller (7), Gnabry (8); Lewandowski (9)*

Substitutes:  Tolisso (6), Robben (6), Ribery (N/A) 


STAR MAN – Once again Robert Lewandowski was the man for the big occasion. He took his two goals brilliantly.

Robert Lewandowski

His first was an ingenious piece of improvisation whilst his second showed the class and composure that has made him one of the best strikers in the world.

He received the ball from Joshua Kimmich, showed great strength to hold of Upamecano and deftly chipped the ball over Gulacsi and into the Leipzig net.

The Poland international had other chances to score but on a night where several players seemed to suffer from stage-fright, he stepped up to deliver a match-winning performance.


Looking Ahead 

Leipzig can look forward to Champions League football once again next season and they will also have a new manager, with talented young coach Julian Nagelsmann taking the reigns.

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​Bayern play FC Kaiserslautern in a friendly on Monday where they are likely to field a much-changed side.

They will look to fill the sizeable void in their squad that will be left by Robben and Ribéry by recruiting a winger in the transfer window.


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Liverpool Wouldn’t Sign Sergio Ramos ‘Even if He Was Free’ Despite Transfer Links

​Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos will absolutely not be joining Liverpool this summer, according to an Anfield source.

Reports in Spain had claimed that both the Reds and Manchester United had their interest piqued, following Ramos’ bust-up with Los Blancos president Florentino Perez earlier this season.

The defender is now apparently ​considering his future in the Spanish capital following a bitterly disappointing season. However, Liverpool will not be the ones to take advantage of the situation it seems.

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“There is 0.0 percent chance of Sergio Ramos playing for Liverpool,” a source told The Mirror.

“It has nothing to do with what happened in Kiev last season.

The 33-year-old was involved in the shoulder injury Mohamed Salah received during Liverpool’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat against Madrid in Kiev last year, while he was also seen to throw an elbow at Reds keeper Loris Karius.

Ramos emphatically denied any wrongdoing in the aftermath of the game, but his comments sparked something of a war of words between himself and several at Liverpool. He has since become a pantomime villain for some Reds fans. However, despite all this, the reason for the Reds’ lack of interest is supposedly much more practical.

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The Mirror’s source is quoted as saying: “Even if we had won the Champions League final and Ramos had shook the hand of every Liverpool player afterwards we would still have no interest in him

“Ramos just doesn’t fit the kind of profile that Jurgen Klopp is looking for.

“We wouldn’t even sign him if he was available on a free.”

The Spaniard is one of the most decorated players of the 21st century, having won four Champions League titles, four Liga titles, two Copas del Rey and four Club World Cups in his 419 Madrid appearances

Sergio Ramos,Marcelo

He has also claimed the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships with Spain, for whom he has 163 caps.

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