Barcelona and Valencia come into today’s Copa del Rey final from completely different places.
Valencia are still on a high from scraping into the Champions League spots in the last three weeks of the season, and want to celebrate their centenary with a cup win.
Barcelona are still in depression after Champions League elimination. The pressure is on them to win the final and, at least, finish the campaign with a domestic double.
Sportsmail breaks down the match that will bring the curtain down on the season in Spain.
Valencia were not in the top four until the last month of the season. Even on the last day, they were fifth after 20 minutes of their match away at Valladolid and Getafe’s home game with Villarreal. But all’s well that ended well.
Full-back, Jose Gaya said this week: “There is no pressure for us because our objective this season was top four, and we have achieved it.”
Barcelona, in contrast, are still hungover from the Champions League semi-final exit. Gerard Pique said on Thursday: “Anfield was a nightmare that is going to be with us for a long time.’ Barcelona are without Luis Suarez, who is recovering from knee surgery, and Ousmane Dembele who is hamstrung.
Philippe Coutinho is expected to be fit and although Nelson Semedo has done only light training this week after suffering a blow to the head in the final league game of the season, he should be fit.
Suarez will be on the flight, however, and so will others who can’t play, such as Denis Suarez and Rafinha. There will also be a seat on the plane for Kevin Prince Boateng.
Valencia have no major injury worries beyond winger Denis Cheryshev, who was ruled out for the rest of the season last month.
Valencia will have a party to end all parties. Barcelona are not planning anything if they win.
They celebrated winning the league on the pitch in their penultimate home game. There will be no open top bus ride ‘just’ for winning the cup.
If Barcelona lose, expect them to sign Matthijs De Ligt within about 24-hours of Valencia’s parade.
If Barcelona win, it will cement Ernesto Valverde’s position, not that he will lose his job if they lose, unless it’s a big defeat.
Messi is up for it. That’s the one bit of good news going into the final.
He wants to pick up trophy No 32 for Barcelona and become the first player ever to score in six finals.
He is likely to be joined by Coutinho and Malcom in attack. They have only played together five times, but Coutinho, at least, has good memories of the Spanish Cup final – he played arguably his best match for Barcelona to date in last year’s final.
Gerard Pique will be important too. He has been outstanding this season, Anfield apart, he has won the last 11 one-match cup finals he has played in.
Most football supporters in Spain can see the appeal of Barcelona not winning their fifth straight Copa del Rey.
But then, Messi has a special relationship with the Betis fans who even chanted his name this season, so they might prefer Barcelona.
It was Valencia who knocked Betis out and prevented them from reaching the final in their own stadium.
They will try to follow the Liverpool example with an intensive press on Barcelona as they try to play out from the back.
Their two goals last week in the 2-0 win over Valladolid both came from robbing the opposition high up the pitch with Rodrigo Moreno and then Dani Parejo winning possession in the build-up to the goals.