Saturday evening witnessed the Copa del Rey final which took place at the Benito Villamarín. Entering the centre stage was Barcelona, who were hungry to complete the double after being crowned as La Liga champion. They wanted to shake things up after being eliminated by Liverpool in the Champions League.

On the other side, Valencia wanted to cap off their decent season with a piece of silverware. They have secured a Champions League spot next season through the fourth spot in La Liga. The Europa League also saw a good run from Marcelino’s side until Arsenal’s domination eliminated them. In the end, Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo’s goals helped Valencia won their first Copa del Rey since 2008.

This tactical analysis will help you take a closer look at how Barcelona lost their chance of completing the double. At the same time, using statistics, we will analyse the factors that helped Valencia came out as champions.


Ernesto Valverde lined his side in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with a view of changing into a 4-3-3 when attacking. The loss of Luis Suárez hit Barcelona hard as they were forced to play Lionel Messi as the lone striker. Gerard Piqué and Clément Lenglet paired up as central defenders and in front of them was Sergio Busquets. Out wide, the Catalunian side also lost Ousmane Dembélé and he was replaced by Sergi Roberto on the right-hand side.

Copa del Rey 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Barcelona vs Valencia
Barcelona and Valencia’s lineups. []
Valencia fielded their strongest team for this final. Ezequiel Garay managed to return on time and played alongside Gabriel Paulista in the centre of the defence. Francis Coquelin would provide support for the defenders while Dani Parejo acted as Valencia’s playmaker. Gonçalo Guedes and Carlos Soler provided speed on both flanks, while the goal-scoring responsibility was placed upon Rodrigo and Kevin Gameiro.

Valencia’s defensive structure and their counter-attacks

As expected, Valencia entered the game with a cautious mentality. They played with a narrow 4-4-2 defensive shape, with the aim of limit Barcelona’s entries into the half-spaces and central spaces. The first defensive line would try to press the ball-carrier and his passing options, preventing any through balls come from him.

Copa del Rey 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Barcelona vs Valencia
Valencia’s narrow defensive structure

At the same time, they would keep the distance between the lines as narrow as possible. Marcelino wanted his players to eliminate every possible attack that could come from the spaces between the lines. With Barcelona attempted to overload the middle area on many occasions, this strategy was crucial in keeping the La Liga champions from reaching Jaume Domènech’s goal.

[To read the rest of this analysis, go here]