Barcelona will be hoping to lift their fifth consecutive Copa del Rey trophy when they lock horns with Valencia at the Estadio Benito Villamarin on Saturday.
Barcelona will be aiming to clinch their second domestic double in a row, when they take on Marcelino’s Valencia in the final of the 2018-19 Copa del Rey on Saturday night. Having successfully defended their La Liga crown, the Catalans will be gunning to retain the cup as well, but have been hit by a spate of injuries ahead of the game.
Starting with the goalkeeping department, first-choice custodian Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been ruled out with a knee injury. The German international will be replaced Jasper Cillessen between the sticks, who could very well be playing his final game for Barcelona, amid speculations of a summer exit.
Nelson Semedo picked up a head injury in the 2-2 draw against Eibar last weekend and is a doubt for the game. However, manager Ernesto Valverde insisted that the Portuguese could be ready in time for the final. Speaking in his pre-match presser, he said (h/t MARCA), “In Nelson [Semedo]’s case, he will have to undergo tests but I think he’ll come through them.”
Despite that, Sergi Roberto is expected to feature at right-back from the get-go. The rest of the defence pretty much picks itself, with Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet partnering up at the heart of the defence, while Jordi Alba lines up at left-back against his former club.
Midfielder Arthur is also an injury doubt for the game, but Valverde was positive that the Brazilian would be ready to play some part in Saturday’s final. “As for Arthur, I spoke with him yesterday and he seemed better. I’m not going to play anyone that is only 50 per cent fit. I think he can play,” the manager said.
Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are guaranteed starters in the middle of the park for Barcelona. The third slot will be a toss-up between Arthur and Arturo Vidal, with the latter likely to get the nod, despite Arthur’s return to fitness.
Attack is where Barcelona have been hit the hardest by injuries. The Catalans will be without star striker Luis Suarez for the game, while Ousmane Dembele and Kevin-Prince Boateng have also been ruled out. Philippe Coutinho is also a doubt for the fixture, with Valverde stating as much in his press conference.
“There are some doubts over Philippe [Coutinho]. We hope he can play,” the Barcelona manager claimed. However, the Brazilian playmaker was involved in training sessions and hence could be thrust back into action on Saturday, given the magnitude of the game.
Club captain Lionel Messi will spearhead the attack for Barcelona, flanked by the Brazilian duo of Malcom and Coutinho on the right and left sides respectively.