Lionel Messi put on a regal showing, bouncing back from last weekend’s disappointing el Clasico display by becoming the all-time record goalscorer in Copa finals, with 10, as he lifted the trophy for a seventh time.
This was an excellent team performance, though. Barca didn’t just add another trophy to their vast collection; they put on an exhibition of force which bodes well for the remainder of their Liga title challenge and beyond.
Under pressure Ronald Koeman kept faith in his 3-5-2 system and made some bold selection calls which paid off as the Catalans beat their Basque opponents in similar style to their 2015 cup final victory over Athletic at Camp Nou.
Gerard Pique came in for Ronald Araujo, after the Uruguayan’s sluggish display at Real Madrid, and the Spaniard excelled despite only playing one game in the last seven weeks.
Griezmann was Koeman’s other gamble, with the forward selected ahead of compatriot Ousmane Dembele, and it proved a good call, despite a big miss from the French forward with the score at 0-0.
The former Atletico man picked himself up and managed to break the deadlock, turning home Frenkie de Jong’s cross.
At 33, Messi can’t do it all by himself anymore and needs team-mates on his side. This victory was about proving to him that he still has a stellar supporting cast at Barcelona; that these colleagues are not just talented, but mentally strong too.
Barcelona have cracked in big games this season and the youngsters in the team, like Oscar Mingueza and Pedri Gonzalez, stepped up to the mark here. They can become the players Messi needs by his side in the coming seasons.
The gifted No.10 has not yet decided if his future lies at Barcelona beyond this summer, when his contract expires, but this victory will have increased the prospect of him staying.
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