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Cup final means damage limitation for Barca against rejuvenated Valencia

AFP  |  Madrid 

Damage limitation, and a fifth consecutive Copa del Rey, will be the prize if beat on Saturday as their rejuvenated opponents eye a final flourish to their remarkable comeback season.

Victory for Barca would only slightly alleviate the disappointment of failing in the but another defeat, less than three weeks after the collapse at Anfield, would plunge the club back into crisis.

For Valencia, the possibilities are more positive, given a loss in is expected, while a win would turn a decent campaign into a sensational one.

The numbers favour Twenty-six points separate the two sides in the table, with Barca scoring more goals than have scored and let in put together.

Valencia's finished their top scorer on nine goals, the same number had hit before the middle of November.

And have beaten only once in 14 attempts, without a success in any of their last eight meetings.

But the records ignore trajectory and momentum. Barca look like a side still hurting, eager to end the season and begin recovering over the summer.

Valencia are flying high, fresh from a late surge that saw them snatch fourth place on Saturday.

After beating Real Valladolid, Valencia's players celebrated like they had won a trophy.

"It wasn't easy to turn it around," said "But we did it."

A day later, Barcelona ended with a 2-2 draw away at Eibar.

"We weren't playing for anything and it showed," said

"In Seville, we will be completely different." Barcelona are depleted.

and ter Stegen are out with Philippe Coutinho, and are all struggling.

and Kevin Prince-Boateng might not have started, but they are unlikely to make it either.

When the club's was asked for his reaction to winning last month, with three games to spare, he said: "We want to win the treble".

The idea was the would be the easy part, a warm-up for winning the final in seven days later.

"It was said we had given up in the Copa de Rey, that we didn't want it," Messi said after they reached the semi-finals. "But in no way is this the case.

This team wants to fight for all three titles as is the obligation of Barca every year."

- 'Magnificent season' -


Another domestic double, Valverde's second in as many years, would be celebrated on Saturday but still deemed a failure next week. Lose and even the league title might be almost forgotten.

Barcelona's consistency in has reduced the impact of their success. They have won the title eight times in 11 years and this weekend can win the cup for a record fifth year in a row.

"The league is the one that shows who has been the best, the most consistent," said Sergi Roberto last weekend.

"We have had a magnificent season."

Valencia last won it 11 years ago, scoring in a 3-1 victory over Getafe in a stadium that no longer exists. That was the last trophy the club hoisted in any competition at all.

After 15 games this season, they sat 15th in La Liga, a battle against relegation more likely than a late push for the top four.

"I can't explain it," said Marcelino, who was the club's 12th in five years but this time the club persevered and his team's form returned.

They made the semi-finals, beaten by Arsenal, and then saw off Valladolid on Saturday to reach next season's

The result may not be remarkable - they made it last year too - but it was the way they did it. Unlike Barcelona, the adversity enhanced the achievement.

"It has been an outstanding season," said

"We have had a lot of problems but we stayed calm. To get back into again is a great achievement."

The same parameters now frame this final, Barcelona aiming to meet expectations, Valencia hoping to exceed them. "We have to go again," said Valverde.

"It's one goal done after a difficult season," said Valencia's Parejo. "There is still one more to do.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 24 2019. 09:45 IST