Copa del Rey last chance to salvage Barcelona's season

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Barca’s Messi (left) chats with teammate Neymar in Barcelona yesterday. Pic/AFPBarca’s Messi (left) chats with teammate Neymar in Barcelona yesterday. Pic/AFP

Only victory in tonight's Copa del Rey final against Alaves will salvage some pride from Barcelona's season and give coach Luis Enrique a successful send-off, whilst the Basques dream of lifting the trophy for a first time. On a night of goodbyes as Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon hosts its final competitive fixture, Enrique will take charge of Barca for the last time.

A win would complete a clean sweep of the Copa del Rey in his three seasons in charge. However, in contrast to the previous two years when Cup success was the icing on a successful season having won the treble in 2015 and a league and Cup double last season, Barca this time head into the end-of-season showpiece without a major trophy.

"Although it can be called the lesser of all the trophies, for us another trophy is at stake. It will allow us to end the season on a high," said Barca captain Andres Iniesta.

Enrique faces a selection headache with both Luis Suarez and Sergi Roberto suspended after being sent-off in a tempestuous semi-final win over Atletico back in February. Paco Alcacer is expected to be handed a rare big game start in Suarez's absence up front, whilst the Catalans are hopeful that Javier Mascherano will shrug off a hamstring problem to fill in at right-back.

Even without Suarez, Barca still have plenty of firepower with Lionel Messi set to start his 700th match for club and country, whilst Neymar has netted in the final twice.

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