Barcelona set un­beaten record

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Sevilla are well-set to meet Barca in the fi­nal on May 21 as they travel to Celta Vigo in the se­cond-leg of the other semi-fi­nal on Thurs­day lead­ing 4-0. An un­der-strength Barcelona set a new club record of 29 games un­beaten to progress to the Copa del Rey fi­nal with a 1-1 draw at Gary Neville's Va­len­cia on Wed­nes­day for an 8-1 ag­gre­gate win.

Barca's place in a fifth fi­nal in six years was as­sured af­ter a 7-0 first-leg rout last week and with­out their star at­tack­ing trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar the un­der-fire Neville looked set to be handed some re­lief by Al­varo Ne­gredo's first-half opener. How­ever, 19-year-old Cameroo­nian mid­fielder Wil­fred Kap­toum came off the bench to score his first Barca goal and pre­serve the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons un­beaten run six min­utes from time. Sevilla are well-set to meet Barca in the fi­nal on May 21 as they travel to Celta Vigo in the se­cond-leg of the other semi-fi­nal on Thurs­day lead­ing 4-0. "I'm very happy to be in the fi­nal. Ev­ery­one at Barca has had things so good in re­cent years we are used to reach­ing the fi­nal, but it is hard to be there ev­ery year," said Barca boss Luis En­rique. In to­tal, En­rique left 11 first-team reg­u­lars back in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal with an eye to his side's busy up­com­ing sched­ule in La Liga and the Cham­pi­ons League. By con­trast, Va­len­cia find them­selves in the midst of a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle in La Liga hav­ing not won for 12 league games, in­clud­ing nine since Neville took charge in De­cem­ber.

And Neville also left out some of the most im­por­tant mem­bers of his squad for the cru­cial clash at home to Espanyol on Satur­day which looks set to de­cide his fu­ture at the club. "We are pre­par­ing the game al­ready for Satur­day, we know it is a big match," said Neville. "The fo­cus af­ter los­ing last week and Sun­day has al­ways been the match on Satur­day against Espanyol. "I thought we de­served to win the game tonight. They weren't per­fect cir­cum­stances af­ter last week, but the play­ers played with dig­nity."

How­ever, there was some re­lief for the Eng­land coach as Ne­gredo, who has cost his side with a se­ries of vi­tal missed chances in re­cent weeks, fi­nally found the net. The striker was af­forded a huge amount of room in be­hind the Barca de­fence to open the scor­ing six min­utes be­fore the break and, de­spite fir­ing his first ef­fort straight at Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen, the re­bound fell favourably for him to tap home his ninth goal of the sea­son. Both sides went through the mo­tions in the se­cond-half in front of a crowd of barely 15,000 at the 55,000 ca­pac­ity Mestalla "It was a bit strange due to the (7-0) re­sult we brought here," he said.

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