From the moment of the announcement of the blaugrana squad list for the 2nd leg of Copa del Rey semifinal in Valencia an unprecedented starting eleven was expected. But Luis Enrique, comforted by the 7-0 win of the first leg, invited his men to maintain the pressure of competition, using an unseen formation this season.
A surprising formation with 3 defenders: Bartra (right centre-back), Vermaelen (centre-back) and Mathieu (left centre-back). Two high-up full-backs, with Aleix Vidal on the right and Adriano on the left, forming a line of 5 players with the midfielders: Samper and Sergi Roberto as centre-midfielders, Rakitic a bit higher on the pitch, sometimes attacking midfielder, or false '9' and even in certain situations winger, with Samper on the other wing and Roberto as a centre midfielder. Up front, Munir and Sandro slightly axial.
Approximate depiction of Barça in Mestalla
Barça started the game with a good ball rhythm, combinating accurately in the midfield, with Sergi Roberto as a central piece and Raktic's movement to hold the whole zone between the central line and Valencia's area, just behind the two strikers. Valencia sporadically pressured high on the pitch with a moderate intensity. That favoured less demanding clearances for centre-backs who haven't played much in competition this season. To facilitate those clearances, many times Vermaelen positionned himself as a centre-half to enable an cleaner and more natural clearance, with two centre-backs.
Without forgetting the circumstances around the game, during the first half-hour of the game, Barça appeared strong with the ball, breaking through the lines easily and getting close to the box. Another element was the offensive power in the last 30 metres. At half time, Blaugranas cumulated 8 shots, none on target. Valencia had 6 shots, 3 on target (1 goal) and 3 off target.
Changes were rewarded
In the second half, Barça lost possession although they were above 50% ball possession and the game moved to Valencia's half. Nevertheless, until the last 10 minutes of the game, the offensive conviction of Luis Enrique's men wasn't very convincing. In the last fifteen minutes, Luis Enrique made his 3 substitutions almost in a row. Cámara, Douglas and Kaptoum. All three of them were decisive on the action of the goal. Douglas, as a left full-back, took the ball to Valencia's half. Cámara, as a right winger, got close to the box and gave a ground pass to Kaptoum who, as a left winger, waited to get into the box to get the ball in a good position and strike it directly with a low driven shot Valencia's goalkeeper Jaume could not stop. The formality was completed and the unbeaten streak was beaten. It's now been 29 games without losing.