De Jong leads Barcelona to Copa del Rey crown with perfect-10 performance vs. Athletic

Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 4-0 on Saturday at La Cartuja in Seville to win the Copa del Rey and secure their first trophy under coach Ronald Koeman. Lionel Messi scored twice, and Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong also were on target as Barca won their first piece of silverware since 2019 and lifted the Spanish cup for a record-extending 31st time.

All four goals arrived in 12 second-half minutes after De Jong set up Griezmann for the opener on the hour mark. De Jong then stooped low to head home a Jordi Alba cross, before linking with Messi to create the third. Messi completed the scoring in the 72nd minute, sweeping home another Alba cross.

The result saw Athletic beaten in a Copa del Rey final for the second time this month, having lost the long-delayed 2020 final to Real Sociedad on April 3.

Positives

Barca endured a trophy-less season last time out -- their first since 2007-08 -- and hadn't won anything since the 2018-19 league title. Since then, they have lost a Copa del Rey final to Valencia and the Spanish Supercopa final to Athletic earlier this year. This win, therefore, served as revenge for that defeat, but was also a hugely important win for Koeman.

The Dutch coach has been criticised for Barca's failure to compete in big games, with that Supercopa defeat paired with Clasico losses and a Champions League exit. He will hope this win serves to silence the doubters and as a timely morale boost for the title run-in in La Liga. Barca are just two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with eight games to play. A domestic double is a very real prospect.

Copa success will also have been sweet for the likes of Griezmann, De Jong, Pedri and Oscar Mingueza, among others, who had never previously won a trophy with the Catalan club.

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Negatives

It's hard to be critical of that performance, although Barca were not clinical in a first half they dominated. Zooming out, there are questions to answer about the futures of Miralem Pjanic and Riqui Puig. Neither player made the bench for the final.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Koeman opted to stick with a back three and brought Griezmann and Gerard Pique into the side following last weekend's Clasico defeat to Real Madrid. Barca were on top from the first minute to the last.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 -- Barca's dominance meant he had little to do but was good with his feet, except for one first-half mistake.

DF Oscar Mingueza, 7 -- Another assured performance caps an incredible season for the academy graduate, who has come from nowhere to make himself a regular in Koeman's side.

DF Gerard Pique, 8 -- Returned from a knee injury to produce a composed and commanding performance at the back.

DF Clement Lenglet, 7 -- Has improved a lot in the past two months and looks much more confident than he did earlier in the season.

MF Sergino Dest, 7 -- Got forward well and created one great chance for Griezmann.

MF Frenkie de Jong, 10 -- Was everywhere. Hit the post in the first half, set up two of the four goals and scored one of his own. Also popped up in defence to make blocks and interceptions and controlled the game from midfield. Imperious.

MF Sergio Busquets, 8 -- Swarmed all over Athletic when Barca lost the ball and used it well, passing creatively through the lines.

MF Pedri, 7 -- Brilliant pressing throughout the game and useful with the ball. Almost scored, but saw his shot tipped wide by Unai Simon.

MF Jordi Alba, 8 -- Loves the freedom he gets playing as a wing-back and got forward to create two of the goals.

FW Lionel Messi, 9 -- Scored a brilliant first goal, playing two one-twos with De Jong, before beating Simon inside the box. Added another, too, but even without the goals, he was a menace all night.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 8 -- Missed a good chance to open the scoring before scoring a similar opportunity minutes later. Linked the team well in attack and worked hard off the ball.

Substitutions

MF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Came on for Dest once Barca had motored away from Athletic.

MF Ilaix Moriba, N/R -- Only given the final few minutes but the 18-year-old will treasure them as he won his first trophy with Barca.

DF Ronald Araujo, N/R -- Like Ilaix, will have appreciated the time on the pitch as Barca won the cup.

FW Martin Braithwaite, N/R -- The semifinal hero only came on for the final three minutes.

FW Ousmane Dembele, N/R -- A fitness issue confined him to the bench, but Koeman still handed him the last few minutes.