Valencia Grabs Copa del Rey from Barcelona
This is how to cap off a centenary season.
It definitely didn't look like 2019 would be all that joyous for Valencia CF at the turn of the year.
Los Ches were dangerously close to the relegation zone, and club management were on the verge of canning manager Marcelino García Toral.
However, the players let it be known they totally supported their fearless leader, management backed off, and dudes mounted an amazing charge in the season's second-half.
Their efforts put the club in Europe:
While that's obviously a cause for celebration and bigger budgeting for next year, it so happens that more exciting time were to come.
The Copa del Rey has been in Barcelona's trophy case for so long -- four straight years, and never facing Real Madrid in the final -- the Blaugrana fans musta figured it was a birthright. But ...
Valencia shot out to a stunning two-goal lead and held on for a 1-2 victory to hoist the hardware for the first time since 2008.
Los Ches served notice early when Rodrigo intercepted a breathtakingly bad flat pass and maneuvered around a desperate Jasper Cillessen, who was saved when Gerard Piqué slid in and stop the ball on the line.
Kevin Gameiro 21st minute) and Rodrigo (33rd minute) followed by cashing in on their opportunities, which was more than enough to offset the obligatory Lionel Messi strike (73rd minute) -- and survive his post-knocker in the 56th -- to get the job done:
Barça threw everything they had at Valencia in the final minutes, but dudes were up to the task.
In short, they simply modified their sit back and counter strategy to one of total absorption to survive the late onslaught, and the Cup was theirs.
In the wake of Valencia's ecstasy was Barça's agony.
In the true arrogance of big-brand clubs, the Blaugrana seemingly ignored the fact they'd just won La Liga by a whopping 11 points and vowed changes would be made after failing to claim the double.
It's almost enough to have the rest of Spain wish Catalonia a bon voyage.