Valencia win a trophy it did not really want
Valencia CF's players celebrate after defeating FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona played at Benito Villamarin stadium, in Seville, southern Spain, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/RAUL CARO
By Alfonso Gil
Valencia, May 26 (efe-epa).- Valencia has been crowned Copa del Rey champion, a title the club had not given much priority to at the beginning of the season, according to the club's director, Mateu Alemany, who had limited his interest in the competition to an opportunity to rotate and use young players.
On Jan. 10, Alemany said that although Valencia was not going to “throw away the cup,” the priority was for La Liga, in which Valencia was flailing at the time, and the UEFA Europa League, which it joined after being eliminated from the Champions League.
"From here on out, we will play what we are given, we will try to get as far as possible, but the absolute priority is La Liga," he said at the time.
He described the EL, where Valencia reached the semi-finals, after eliminating Celtic, Krasnodar and Villarreal only to be knocked out by Arsenal, as “important, interesting and clearly attractive.”
Alemany said that had he been asked in 2018, when Valencia was second in the league, he would have put more effort into the Copa del Rey because the circumstances were different.
But, speaking in Jan. 2019, the team from the east of Spain languished in mid-table following a long series of draws.
Neither its format, nor the influx of spectators, nor the rotations most of the teams introduced to their starting line-ups, made the Spanish Cup an exciting competition in Alemany’s eyes.
At that time, the goal was to give an “exceptional” performance during the second half of La Liga season and reach the Champions League for the next season, a goal that Valencia achieved with a 2-0 away win over Valladolid earlier May on the final La Liga matchday.
Nobody knew then the joy Valencia was going to give its fans five months after the press conference.
And it was not an easy road to the final, either. Valencia had to overcome challenges from an in-form Getafe and Real Betis.
But it would only get better, buoyed by a massive influx of fans to Seville, where the Copa final would take place, Valencia overcame the league champions, whose star Lionel Messi was unable to clinch the domestic double for the Catalan side.
It was some way to cap off Valencia's 100th anniversary. EFE