Saturday, December 9

Duel of styles in search of glory in La Cartuja

The Copa del Rey trophy, exhibited at the Setas de Sevilla. / EP


The fine Betis de Pellegrini pursues the third Copa del Rey in its history against the tough Valencia de Bordalás, who aspires to the ninth

Oscar Bellot

The La Cartuja stadium will wear its best clothes to host a duel between two teams that have almost antagonistic styles, but that will appear in the Sevillian venue, a frequent venue for high-ranking events for some time now, with the same objective: to bring its showcases a Copa del Rey that endorses the project and galvanizes the fans of the winner.

On one side, the fine Betis of Manuel Pellegrini, one of the great sensations of the season thanks to his commitment to fast-paced and offensive football that for many months allowed him to play three competitions simultaneously and has him still dreaming of entering the Champions League. On the other, the leathery Valencia of José Bordalás, always a tough nut to crack despite those everlasting tensions between the board and the fans that would temper a title that would also serve the Levantine team to seal that passport to Europe that has been put on the table for weeks. Aramaic by ordinary means.

A reflection of the divergent idiosyncrasies of their technicians, the Green and Whites and Black and Whites face the most momentous stake of the course with the aim of clinching greatness in a competition in which they have had to overcome serious obstacles, but in which they now caress glory with the yolk of the fingers. Those from Heliópolis, executioners in the semifinals of the surprising Rayo Vallecano with a goal over the horn of Panda Iglesias when the match seemed doomed to overtime, are pursuing the third Copa del Rey in their history, after winning the gold medal in 1977 and 2005, and leaving defeated in the finals of 1931 and 1997. For their part, the owners of Mestalla, executors in the run-up to the Athletic final with a decisive goal by Guedes in the second leg, aspire for the ninth time to the laurels in a tournament that They conquered for the last time three years ago by beating Barça in the nearby Benito Villamarín and in 1999 they already tied up in La Cartuja, defeating, at the hands of Claudio Rainieri, the Atlético of the late Radomir Antic with a double by Piojo López.

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Experience works in favor of Valencia, which has in its ranks ten survivors from the squad that lifted the most recent title under the aegis of Marcelino García Toral, while in Betis only Joaquín resists from the team that was proclaimed champion defeating to Osasuna in the distant final of 2005 that hosted the today demolished Vicente Calderón. The incombustible winger from Puerto de Santa María, Betis’ 40-year-old flagship, was also enthroned three years later with Valencia in the same temple, but now seeks to prevent the party of the squad in which he spent five campaigns and thus put a finishing touch to his long career in the elite.

Pellegrini’s ceiling

Everything points, however, to the fact that the eternal Verdiblanco captain will have to wait his turn on the bench, because Pellegrini’s main doubt lies in the name of Bartra’s companion in the axis of defense. The Engineer, who has given defensive consistency to a Betis that flies on the back of the creativity of Canales and Fekir and intimidates with the punch of Juanmi and Borja Iglesias, has, at 68 years of age, the possibility of lifting his first trophy in the Spanish soccer, with which he would fatten up some showcases in which titles fastened in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and England shine. For this, the Chilean globetrotter will have his eleven type with the purpose of subduing Valencia through possession and being surgical in the areas.

A considerable challenge considering that a Valencia will be in front of them, with intensity as an inalienable principle that characterizes all Bordalás teams. The coach from Alicante is looking for a prize that calms the always choppy waters in the club from the city of Turia, after a campaign in which the team with the bat has lived on a real roller coaster. Qualification for the Cup final weighed on Valencia’s performance in the last days of the League, which has left them with no other options to access Europe than to triumph in La Cartuja.

An added pressure but also an incentive for a group whose main doubt lies in the physical state of Gabriel Paulista. The Brazilian central defender missed the last league games due to a muscle injury, but has been working in three daily sessions with the aim of being able to once again lead the rearguard of a squad that would have to modify the plan if it cannot jump to the grass. Delaying Hugo Guillamón to give entry to Ilaix Moriba in the engine room or closing with four would be two of the alternatives that Bordalás would manage, who was optimistic with the former Arsenal player. Above, a good part of Valencia’s options to touch the sky again in its talismanic city will go through the overflow of Guedes and Bryan Gil or the opportunism of Hugo Duro.

Likely lineups

  • Betty:
    Claudio Bravo, Bellerín, Pezzella, Bartra, Álex Moreno, Guido Rodríguez, William Carvalho, Canales, Juanmi, Fekir and Borja Iglesias.

  • Valencia:
    Mamardahsvili, Correia, Diakhaby, Gabriel Paulista, Alderete, Gayà, Foulquier, Hugo Guillamón, Carlos Soler, Guedes and Bryan Gil.

  • Referee:
    Hernández Hernández (Committee of Las Palmas).

  • Time:
    10:00 p.m.

  • Stadium:
    The Cartuja.

  • TV:
    Telecinco / DAZN.

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