Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong stole the show as Barcelona ran out 4-0 winners over Athletic Bilbao to win the 2020/21 Copa del Rey.
Barcelona were the stronger of the two sides, but failed to create many openings as Athletic Bilbao sat with nearly all their men behind the ball, happy to soak up the pressure to frustrate the Catalan giants. In fact, the Blaugrana only came close once in the opening 45 minutes, with that chance coming as early as the 5th minute, when Frenkie de Jong hit the woodwork.
The chances started flowing at a dramatically higher rate post the interval, with Unai Simon being forced into a number of saves before Barcelona finally broke the deadlock at the hour mark. The move for the opening goal was quite a slick one, with Lionel Messi involved before Frenkie de Jong squared the ball for the easiest of tap-ins for Antoine Griezmann.
Shortly after, it was de Jong’s chance to score, as he headed in Jordi Alba’s cross. Messi would then go on to add more sheen to the scoreline, finding the back of the net twice in four minutes with a couple of beautiful goals, as Barcelona won a record-extending 31st Copa del Rey. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ronald Koeman’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
A game in which ter Stegen had precious little to do, with his save being a regulation stop as well. Having said that, the German international was confident in cutting out the danger in tricky situations while being precise as ever with the ball at his feet.
Oscar Mingueza: 7/10
Mingueza practically played as a midfielder on the night, spending a lot of time in the Bilbao half while having identical numbers to Clement Lenglet on the other side of the back three. Had the joint-most touches (117) while completing 102 of the 107 passes he attempted. Instrumental in ensuring Barcelona were constantly on top of Athletic Bilbao.
Gerard Pique: 8/10
Back in the starting lineup, Pique controlled things from the heart of the three-man centre-back unit in quite the expertly fashion. Never let either Inaki Williams or Raul Garcia have any joy in the Barcelona defensive third, completing an impressive 6 interceptions to ensure his side remained in control. Hardly misplaced a pass either. Solid on return, which ended with yet another trophy in Barcelona colours.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
With Barcelona firmly in control of the proceedings, Lenglet set about being clinical in his build-up play from the back, which is exactly what he did. Had the joint-most touches (117) and completed 102 of the 107 passes he attempted. Imperious in the air, the Frenchman won each of his 6 aerial duels as well, which, in turn, helped Barcelona keep the danger away from ter Stegen.
Sergino Dest: 7/10
Not as influential as Jordi Alba on the left flank, but Dest still tried hard to make things happen from his wing. A constant outlet down the right-hand channel, Dest linked up well with Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong, but could not create many chances. Still retained a healthy 92 percent passing rate, though, while hardly being called into action in the defensive phase.
Frenkie de Jong: 9/10
3 – With one goal and two assists against Athletic, @FCBarcelona's Frenkie de Jong 🇳🇱 is the second player to be directly involved in three goals in a Copa del Rey final in the 21st century, after Lionel Messi 🇦🇷 against Sevilla in 2018 (one goal, two assists). Stellar. pic.twitter.com/iHotYlRKVl
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 17, 2021
After a sub-par showing against Real Madrid, this was de Jong being back to his very best. Pulled the strings effortlessly all through the match and came the closest to breaking the deadlock in a frustrating first half, when he hit the woodwork. Misplaced just 3 passes all game while playing a game-high 3 key passes.
His best work, though, came during that brilliant 12-minute blitz from Barcelona, as he first linked up superbly with Messi before setting up Antoine Griezmann for the opener before scoring one himself by converting an Alba cross. Finally, de Jong provided the assist for Messi’s first at the end of a delightful move that ended with an even better finish. What a gem!
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
A masterful performance at the base of the midfield by Sergio Busquets, who completed 93 of the 98 passes he attempted. Looked to open up play with the help of long balls, not misplacing even one of the 10 that he attempted. Even came close to scoring early in the second half, only to be thwarted by Unai Simon. Nevertheless, he did his job and more.
While Pedri did not have a direct hand in any of the goals that Barcelona scored, he was still quite key in keeping things ticking over while misplacing just 4 passes all game. Came close to scoring on one occasion as well, only to be denied by the superb Simon. Worked hard to win the ball high up the pitch and retain the pressure on Bilbao.
Jordi Alba: 8/10
Jordi Alba was as Jordi Alba usually is when afforded time and space deep into the final third down the left flank. Was a constant source of crosses all through the game and two of those were finished off in style, as de Jong and Messi scored the second and fourth Barcelona goals to complete the rout of Athletic Bilbao. Retained a healthy 92 percent pass completion rate despite his creative outlook.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 17, 2021
Another final to remember for Messi, who stole the show for the umpteenth time in his Barcelona career. Tried to make things happen in the first half before bursting into life post the break, as he was instrumental in the build-up to Griezmann’s goal before scoring two himself.
The finish for the first of his goals was simply delightful, as he exchanged the ball with de Jong smartly before producing the peach of a strike. Messi then converted an Alba cross with ease to make it 4-0 and complete his brace. Could this be his final trophy with Barcelona? If so, that was some way to sign off for Messi.
Antoine Griezmann: 8/10
The player who worked the hardest to create pockets of spaces in and around the stubborn and compact Athletic Bilbao defence in the first half. His efforts were finally rewarded not long after he came close to scoring, as he turned in de Jong’s fine low cross. Had a goal disallowed later in the game as well, when he was adjudged to be offside in the build-up. A brilliant performance, though.
5 – Antoine Griezmann 🇫🇷 has scored six goals in his last five finals between club and country: Europa League (2), World Cup (1), Supercopa (2) and Copa del Rey (1). Prince. pic.twitter.com/HLAKqPnRzZ
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 17, 2021
Sergi Roberto: N/A
On for Dest, Roberto spent the final 15 minutes of the game roaming around while completing each of his attempted passes, as Barcelona saw the game out without much of a fuss.
Ilaix Moriba: N/A
On for the final 10 minutes or so, Moriba completed each of his 8 attempted passes, which helped Barcelona close out the game efficiently.
Ronald Araujo: N/A
Sent on in place of Pique, Araujo helped see the game out.
Martin Braithwaite: N/A
A late introduction, Braithwaite barely had a touch on the ball before full-time whistle blew.
Ousmane Dembele: N/A
On for Griezmann, Dembele barely had any time to make an impact, with Barcelona in cruise control mode late on.