Athletic Bilbao 0-4 FC Barcelona
Barcelona scored four goals in a 13-minute second half blitz, highlighted by a Lionel Messi brace, to down Athletic Club 4-0 in the 2020/21 Copa del Rey Final tonight at the Estadio de la Cartuja in Seville.
It marks the 31st Copa del Rey title for the Catalan club and their first since the 2017/18 edition.
After a first half in which Athletic’s compact defence frustrated Messi and company, the Barcelona attack smashed the Basque side with goals from Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong before Messi’s brace.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman went with a three-man back line of Oscar Mingueza, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet, meaning Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba played as wing-backs to help support the midfield of De Jong, Sergio Busquets and Pedri. Meanwhile, in the two-man attack, Ousmane Dembele was the odd man out and relegated to the bench.
Koeman’s men came out strong and they came within a whisker of nabbing the first goal in the first five minutes when a De Jong shot rang off the post. But there was also a chance for Athletic at the other end when Inigo Martinez was unable to cleanly connect on a freekick with only Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to beat.
Athletic were content to sit back and clog up the middle of the pitch to limit Messi’s ability to combine with teammates, forcing Barcelona out wide, especially to the right flank where Dest and Mingueza were not as threatening.
Dest was immediately more dangerous at the start of the second half and his cross into Griezmann almost resulted in a goal, only for Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon to block the Griezmann shot and the ball deflecting off the Frenchman and out of play.
The pressure kept coming from Barcelona and after a hard hit from Pedri that flashed just wide, somehow Unai Simon managed to deny Busquets from just five yards out to keep things scoreless.
Barcelona finally would get the breakthrough just shy of the hour mark and this time Griezmann was on the mark by stabbing in a cross from De Jong to make it 1-0.
The goal loosened things up and three minutes later it was 2-0 with Alba curling in a cross from the left and De Jong getting low to steer a header home for the score.
Barcelona were really starting to play their free flowing football and Messi and De Jong would put on a show with some slick combination play that began on the half way line and ended with Messi steering the ball into the bottom corner of Unai Simon’s net to stretch the advantage to 3-0.
Perhaps it only made sense that Barcelona closed out their four-goal spurt with a duo that have put so many opponents to the sword, with Alba finding Messi with a cut-back pass from the left and the Argentine squeezing in a left-footed shot for a 4-0 lead.
With the healthy cushion, Koeman went to his bench to start the final quarter-hour, with Sergi Roberto on for Dest, followed later by Ilaix for Pedri, Ronald Araujo for Pique, Dembele for Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite on for Mingueza.
The final minutes were a mere formality, as Barcelona closed things out to collect their first major trophy since their 2018/19 LaLiga crown.