Despite the disappointing el Clasico in the league, it’s time to focus on the final of the Copa del Rey. There we will be facing Athletic Bilbao. Given Marcelino Toral always puts his principles above anything else, we are the ones who will need to adapt to our opponent. So what tactical facets should we pay attention to?
Obviously, Barça will be the ones who will keep hold of the ball the most. Therefore, it would be sane to start off with our attack and midfield. While sticking to the 3-5-2, I would use no clear striker (Messi – Griezmann). Athletic’s defence struggles more with late arrivals into the box. These runs into space will be made by the interiors who, for me, should be Frenkie de Jong and Ilaix Moriba. The latter being more likely to get into the penalty area than Pedri.
Another factor that could be crucial is the way we will use the flanks. Basically, what we should do is exactly what Real Sociedad did against them in the rescheduled 2020 CDR final. Due to Bilbao’s defence being extremely narrow, we could match them in midfield, while leaving the flanks for the wingbacks to terrorize. The only difference is that, having two false 9s, Alba and Dest will get sufficient support in the half-spaces, which is vital for the development of our attacks.
And finally, we cannot forget about our defence, which will have to contend with the fearsome duo of Raúl García and Iñaki Williams. The back three would ideally look like that: Araújo – Piqué – Mingueza. Ronald is the only one capable of matching Williams’ pace, while Mingueza is very keen on closely following an opponent dropping deep, which is exactly what García does.
In such finals, every single detail matters. We cannot allow this game to be a carbon copy of January’s Supercopa final, because that only suggests that we will struggle a lot. Athletic have many weaknesses, and our job is to make full use of them.