Latest About: Barcelona 3-1 Alaves: Lionel Messi and Neymar ensure Luis Enrique leaves with Copa del Rey – 5 things we learned:
Lionel Messi breaks ridiculous record with stunning goal as Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to win the Copa dey Rey
Barcelona 3-1 Alaves: Lionel Messi and Neymar ensure Luis Enrique leaves with Copa del Rey – 5 things we learned
Barcelona 3-1 Alaves live Copa del Rey Final 2017 recap as Luis Enrique leaves a winner at the Vicente Calderon
And he proved it once again by putting in a man of the match display as Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to win the Copa dey Rey.
The Argentine broke the deadlock in the match at the Vicente Calderon after playing a brilliant one-two with Neymar.
He curled a left-footed shot past Fernando Pacheco in the Alaves goal and set the Catalan’s on their way to win their third Copa del Rey in a row.
Messi continued to dominate the La Liga minnows after his goal, pulling all the strings in the middle of the park and beating players with ease.
After Alaves equalised he played a part in Neymar’s goal before producing a moment of magic in setting up Paco Alcacer to make it three.
Beating three defenders, Messi slipped a pass through the back four – putting it on a plate for the Spaniard – who found the target.
In doing so he became the first player since Telmo Zarra, all the way back in 1950, to score in four different Copa finals.
That’s 2017, 2015, 2012 and 2009 for those who are interested to know. Incredible.
1. The end of the line
This was Luis Enrique’s last game as Barcelona manager, with Ernesto Valverde taking over from him on Monday.
This is the last time Barcelona will wear the Qatar Airways sponsorship on their shirt, with Rakuten taking over, ending the six years the country have featured on the front (formerly Qatar Foundation).
This was the last time Carlos Clos Gomez will referee a game, with the 44 year old hanging up his whistle after a decade at the top level.
This was the last time we will see some of these players turning out for both sides. Barcelona will be selling some stars to raise money and sign new ones, while nine of Alaves’ squad were on loans which now expire.
This was the end of the Spanish domestic football season and we have to wait three months for it to start all over again—although Real Madrid are in action against Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.
And of course, this was goodbye to the iconic, historic, frankly brilliant Vicente Calderon stadium. It’s a shame Atletico couldn’t feature in the last official match here, but regardless, it will be missed.
2. Iniesta saves best ’til last
Barcelona’s captain has endured a tough season, by his own very high standards. Having suffered three injuries which have kept him out for long stretches, even when he has played it has been tricky for him to find his rhythm.
With other legends like Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol leaving or retiring, both the fans and Iniesta knows Father Time will eventually come for him too.
However in arguably his best performance of the season he showed he still has plenty to offer this Barcelona midfield and that the fans can expect one more season from him at the very least, barring any more unfortunate injuries.
Like Messi he won his 30th trophy and there will be more to come for the veteran playmaker next season, with his contract likely to be extended in the summer.
3. Alaves stars will keep shining bright
While the supporters left the Vicente Calderon disappointed because of the result, they were proud of a strong performance by their team in their first ever domestic final.
It won’t be much consolation for the fans but some of the side that gave Barcelona a run for their money will go on to have spectacular careers.
Notably Marcos Llorente and Theo Hernandez, who are both likely to become fixtures in Real Madrid’s team.
The former is a Los Blancos player and on loan at Alaves where he has enjoyed a sensational season.
The latter is an Atletico Madrid man (on loan at Alaves) but is poised to make the swap to all-white.
Theo scored a brilliant free-kick to add to the already frequent young Gareth Bale comparisons—a brilliant attacking left-back charging forward.
4. The man for the big occasion
Any occasion, really, but especially the big ones. Lionel Messi intervened as he is so accustomed to doing, to earn Barcelona the Copa del Rey trophy.
He broke the deadlock with a superb strike curled home from the edge of the box, played his part in a fine team move for the second goal and then, best of all, created the third for Alcacer with a stunning dribble.
Messi has scored an incredible 26 goals in 25 finals, demonstrating his ability to produce under extreme pressure and decide big games for his team.
What’s more, this was his 30th trophy with Barcelona. Another milestone in a career full of them.
And just as a footnote, Neymar has become the first player to score in three consecutive Copa del Rey finals since Ferenc Puskas (1960-62). So when Messi does eventually go, they might just have the perfect replacement…
5. Good vibes for the transition
Barcelona’s excellent display will make the coaching switch from Luis Enrique to Ernesto Valverde easier.
The Asturian departs on a high note and instead of misery and anger surrounding the man set to be appointed as his replacement, Valverde, when he arrives, the waters will be calmer.
No, winning the Copa del Rey does not atone completely for what will be remembered as a disappointing final year for Lucho, but at least the panic of having won nothing has been staved off.
That would have been an unproductive atmosphere for the incoming Valverde to have to deal with, especially considering the 53-year-old will have a lot on his plate with the ins and outs.
There were good performances by Andre Gomes and Paco Alcacer too, which will give the new coach hope he can get them to kick on from disappointing debut seasons.
FT: Barcelona 3-1 Alaves – Here’s 5 things we learned
Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to their 29th Copa del Rey trophy with a dazzling performance against Alaves at the Vicente Calderon.
The Argentine won the 30th trophy of his club career and was the clear man of the match as Barcelona finished a disappointing season by retaining the cup for the third year running.
Alaves started fiercely, stretching the laws of the game at times but certainly showing Barcelona they would be no pushovers.
They nearly opened the scoring when Ibai Gomez’s shot from the left hit the near post after a Gerard Pique error, with Jasper Cillessen missing the ball and nearly allowing it to spin into his net.
Deyverson had a goal correctly ruled out for offside as Alaves made a game of it, but the Catalans held out to triumph.