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Copa del Rey: Can Alavés pull off a shock victory over Barcelona?

Friday 10th February 2017
83 teams started the competition, today, we are down to just the two – Deportivo Alavés and Barcelona. Alavés have enjoyed a fairytale run to the Kings Cup final and are just a game away from experiencing the ecstasy of an unfancied title-winning campaign. Can Alavés topple the Catalan giants and lift the Copa del Rey?
Alavés, a 96-year-old Spanish football club made history on Wednesday when they beat Celta Vigo by a lone goal to reach the Copa del Rey final. The Babazorros have never played a Spanish Cup final since being formed in 1921.

Having defeated all but one of their opponents in the Copa del Rey this season, Alavés have a date with history when they face defending Champions, Barcelona on May 27. The big question now is; has Alavés' fairy tale run come to an end? Or will they pull off a shock defeat against Barcelona?

Alavés has risen from the ashes of Spanish football after falling from the grace in 2001, as they lost the 2001 UEFA Cup final to Liverpool. Since then, El Glorioso succumbed to years of maladministration and spent a decade outside the top flight, dropping as far as the third tier of Spanish football. However, a season ago, Alavés made a long-awaited return to the La Liga by winning the Segunda Division.

Ironically, in their third game following their La Liga return, Alavés pulled off a shock victory when they handed Barcelona their first and only home defeat of the season – El Glorioso defeated the Catalan giants with a 2-1 victory.

The reverse fixture of that encounter comes up this weekend when Alavés welcomes Barcelona to the Mendizorrotza in La Liga; that fixture is sure to test the resolve of the newly promoted side who sit 12th in the table.

A look at the Alavés first team might leave you with raised eyebrows considering the number of players they have on loan from other clubs – the Babazorros have players such as Marcos Llorente on loan from Real Madrid, Deyverson Silva and Victor Camarasa on short-term deals from Levante, and Rodrigo Ely from AC Milan. There are also similar loan moves for Adrian Orto from Barcelona, Ruben Sobrino from Manchester City, Theo Hernandez from Athletic club and finally, Oscar Romero on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.

Alavés Manager, Mauricio Pellegrino who once played for Barcelona has succeeded in putting together a team on a small budget who can dare to dream...

On beating Barcelona at the Camp Nou, Pellegrino revealed that his major challenge was getting his players to believe they could do it; the manager was quoted by Sky Sports as saying:

"To play against Barcelona is not easy work; the most difficult thing is to convince the players that we would have our chance. We can see Barcelona winning a lot of games 5-0 or 6-0 and for the confidence of the player we had to convince them we'd have our moment.”

They did have their moment in that game and emerged victorious. With a rare opportunity to return to Europe if they can defeat Barcelona in May, Alavés will have all to fight for in that encounter.

Alavés can certainly stun Barcelona! – they've done it before, so you can't rule out the possibility of a repeat performance.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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