For all the fans who had started to ponder and worry where the Barcelona’s form had gone, this would be the match that reminded them of how good their team can be.
The game displayed the sort of skill, imagination, tact and precision worthy of the “best team in the world” – despite the 7-point gap enjoyed by current La Liga leaders, Real Madrid.
Valencia, a worthy opponent, gave Barcelona a run for their money in the first half. The first 15 minutes of the match the possession seemed evenly split, but Barcelona were first to strike and in the 16th minute, Cesc Fabregas gave Barcelona the lead.
Even with a lead there was certainly no reason to relax as Valencia continued to pressurize Barcelona, and goalkeeper Pinto was required to make a number of crucial saves.
The second Barca goal did come until late in the 2nd half. A pass from Messi found Xavi on a breakaway and the goal secured Barcelona’s spot in the final.
Admittedly, when Pinto starts in goal, I feel less secure, but an amazing display by Pinto frustrated Valencia time and time again.
Guardiola singled out his second-choice keeper for special praise, “He was impeccable, especially his footwork.”
During the post-game interviews it was clear how important the win and a place in the Copa del Rey Final was to the Barcelona players. Cesc, who scored the first goal was particularly happy with his own performance, “This is one of my best games since I’ve arrived at FC Barcelona” he said.
For the second time in three years, FC Barcelona will face Athletic Bilbao in the King’s Cup Final and it will also mark the 12th Cup Final reached by Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. – a truly remarkable achievement.
The semi-final second leg was easily one of Barcelona’s best displays of the season and overall, an excellent match. Barcelona fired on all-cylinders with their trademark passing and almost telepathic chemistry between the players proving too much for a spirited Valencia side.
However, it is a display such as this that leads to the inevitable question. Why does Barcelona not play every game with such passion, intensity and skill?
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