Valencia enjoy Copa win, all eyes on Barcelona's Valverde
As Valencia celebrated crowning their centenary with Copa del Rey glory, Barcelona went their separate ways. That's not surprising, you might say. But they'd have done the same had they won the final, too; at least, that's what we were told. There was no open-top bus parade when they won LaLiga, after all; just a short title party with the players' families out on the pitch after the Levante game, at a Camp Nou that emptied fairly quickly. They were preparing for a Champions League semi-final, and that was this term's focus. Maybe there was too great an obsession with Real Madrid's three straight continental crowns; either way, Barça's only thought was Europe. They basically won LaLiga by force of habit and thanks to Messi.
Now, all eyes are on Ernesto Valverde. Does he have it in him to rally this Barça for another assault on the Champions League? One thing he's certainly not to blame for is the disastrous signing of Philippe Coutinho, or, for that matter, Kevin-Prince Boateng, who was in theory brought in to provide cover for Luis Suárez. By the way, Suárez responded to the criticism he's been getting over his knee operation yesterday, issuing a statement justifying his decision to go under the knife before the final. In Valverde's favour, it can be argued that his team showed plenty of energy, quality and character in the second half of the Valencia game, pinning Los Che back and forcing them to hold out heroically. He got his side going at the break.
Valencia parade Copa after seeing patience rewarded
Meanwhile, Valencia paraded the Copa around an elated city yesterday. A day for everyone to savour, not least Dani Parejo and Marcelino, who've both come through tough times at the club. Parejo was once a target for the Mestalla boo boys after being pictured ciggie-in-mouth on a night out. Marcelino had one foot out of the door earlier this year when Rodrigo Moreno, Kevin Gameiro and Santi Mina's goal-shyness meant they couldn't stop drawing. Now, the pair are heroes at a club which, 11 years later, have emerged from the tunnel of darkness that ex-president Juan Soler thrust them into. 11 years that have brought three majority shareholders, seven presidents, 12 coaches and 10 sporting directors. Patience rewarded, all in all.