In a match of mud and ashes, trench coats and fixed bayonets, the platoon with the bat captured Athletic’s banner and set its course for the final at La Cartuja on April 23. Three years after winning their eighth trophy against Leo Messi’s Barça, with the fire knocking at their door, Valencia rewound a memory of days gone by that they thought they were not going to repeat due to their difficult time as a society. Valencia and Athletic matched in hunger and desire, but a whiplash from Gonçalo Guedes led the black and whites to Seville, the same venue where they were crowned in 2019.
Mamardashvili, Mouctar Diakhaby, Gabriel Paulista (Hugo Guillamón, min. 82), Omar Alderete, Moriba Kourouma, Foulquier, Carlos Soler, Gayá (Lato, min. 32), Gonçalo Guedes, Bryan Gil Salvatierra (Yunus Musah, min. 70) and Hugo Hard
Julen Agirrezabala, Yeray, Yuri, Íñigo Martínez, Lekue (Alex Petxarromán, min. 60), Vesga (Oier Zarraga, min. 81), Muniain, Berenguer (Nico Williams, min. 69), Dani García (Unai Vencedor, min. 60), Williams and Raúl García (O. Sancet, min. 60)
goals 1-0 min. 42: Goncalo Guedes.
Yellow cards Gabriel Paulista (min. 25), Íñigo Martínez (min. 59), Omar Alderete (min. 72), Mouctar Diakhaby (min. 91) and Oier Zarraga (min. 94)
Installed in the chair of Cup finalist, Valencia has saved the course. Bordalás’ risky bet of risking his luck on red or black in the Cup roulette has been rewarded. With the boost of the classification, the season, disappointing in the League, gains in value, softens the tensions between Meriton and the coach, and can allow the group, riding that wave of confidence, to stand on tiptoe to see if it is enough to reach to Europe. A breath of optimism in another season in which a new storm was heralded.
Bordalás’ group activated the Mestalla neon switch and the old temple of the Swedish avenue, one of the most powerful sounding boards in the League, recovered its luminosity and the sound with which its cement vibrates and frightens its rivals . United by the closeness of a title, also by the speech of an intimate enemy like Marcelino García Toral, the different tribes of the bat fans forgot their quarrels and went to see the hunt for the great lion of San Mamés.
Athletic could not make its status as a classic cupbearer bigger in the Mestalla boiler. Marcelino’s eleven, in a high-voltage game, stayed on the edge of playing his sixth Cup final since 2009, the third in a row. Those of Marcelino, a solid, committed and supportive structure, did not find a player with the imbalance of Guedes or Bryan Gil.
Bordalás and Marcelino resemble each other tactically as much as they distance themselves in the press room; however, the Valencia coach surprised the Athletic coach with a hat-trick of central defenders and two long-backs. Finally, José Luis Gayà entered the eleven, although injured and diminished in his potential. The captain wanted to add, but it barely lasted half an hour, a victim of the high pace of the game. De Marcos fell from the rojiblanco eleven at the last minute due to stomach problems.
Gayà’s departure caused the entry of Lato, his natural replacement, who seemed to be injured in his first action. Marcelino saw the gap and touched charge on that side to punish the Valencian, but it was Iñaki Williams, on the opposite side, who stood in front of Mamardashvili to make the first. The Georgian goal avoided it. Dressed in black, like Iribar, Mom he disrupted all Athletic’s shots. In the following action, Guedes caught a short and frontal clearance from Yeray, and unleashed his characteristic whip with the right hand to score when the team, very hasty, was subdued. In the added time of the first act, Bryan Gil was not precise in a pass over Hugo Duro and Soler, with a heel, could not get past Agirrezabala. More serene, Athletic, with Williams breaking into space, wasted two heads-ups against Mamardashvili that the rojiblancos would remember at the end of the duel.
In the second half, Valencia’s defensive system and its goalkeeper stopped the transitions of the rojiblanco block. Valencia also moved with speed, with Gonçalo Guedes, the differential player who unbalanced the duel, fast and intelligent to accelerate or manage the counterattacks. Soler finished off with a Chilean and Mom calmly neutralized Athletic’s set piece. Agirrezabala in the extension kept Athletic until the end of the match, obstructing an action by Soler. The night was Valencian.
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