Barcelona .v. Athletic Bilbao
Do Athletic Club Bilbao have a chance of pulling off a shock win over Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey which takes place at the Camp Nou on Saturday night? Barcelona completed a league double over Athletic, winning 2-0 in the Camp Nou and 5-2 at the San Mamés in February; but Ernesto Valverde’s team are currently on a run of seven games unbeaten.
Barca are much more than a one man team; but find a way of suppressing the extraordinary talents of Lionel Messi and maybe Athletic could derail Barcelona’s chances of completing a remarkable treble.
Messi was directly responsible for five of Barca’s seven goals in the two league games, providing four assists and scoring once. Over the two games, Athletic created 12 chances, (six in each game). Barcelona created 23 chances in each game, with the irrepressible Messi responsible for creating over 41% of his team’s chances (9 at the Camp Nou and 10 at the San Mamés).
Borussia Dortmund .v. Wolfsburg The DFB-Pokal final is likely to be an emotional occasion as Jürgen Klopp takes charge of Borussia Dortmund for the last time, as they attempt to overcome a Wolfsburg team which has never won the German Cup Final and finished the season as runners up to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. The teams drew 2-2 at the Signal Iduna Park in December, with Wolves dominating possession; but Dortmund having more shots on goal and more shots on target. When the teams met at the Volkswagen Arena earlier this month, it was the Black and Yellows who edged possession, having slightly more attempts on goal; but from 16 goal attempts, only two were on target. Wolfsburg had 14 shots on goal, 10 of which were on target, with the Wolves winning the match 2-1.
Arsenal .v. Aston Villa
Arsenal take on a revitalized Aston Villa team in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
When Tim Sherwood took charge of Aston Villa they were in 18th place in the league and had scored only 12 times in 25 games. They ended the season one place and three points above the relegation zone, but in those 13 games they scored 19 times, 11 goals coming from striker Christian Benteke. A third placed finish and winning the FA Cup for a second successive season would represent a good season for Arsene Wenger’s team.
When the teams met at Villa Park in September, Arsenal scored three goals in the space of four first half minutes. During the match almost a quarter of Arsenal’s attempts at creating a chance were successful, whilst only 14% of Aston Villa’s attempts to create chances ended in success.
Arsenal overpowered their opponents in the return game at the Emirates, scoring four of their five goals in the second half, with Villa once more failing to score. During the match, more than a third of Arsenal’s attempts at creating a chance were successful, with only 11% of Aston Villa’s attempts resulting in success. In the two games, two-thirds of Arsenal’s attempts on goal ended as a goal; whilst none of Villa’s goal attempts led to a goal for the shot shy Midlanders.
Paris St Germain .v. Auxerre The Coupe de France has a habit of throwing up shocks, although Guingamp in 2009 were the last team from Ligue 2 to win the trophy when they beat Ligue 1 Rennes. Its five years since PSG last won the Coupe de France, whilst Auxerre claimed the trophy four times between 1994 and 2005. The team from Burgundy have struggled in recent years, finishing this season just above halfway in Ligue 2. During this past season Paris St. Germain dominated possession (62%) in their matches in Ligue 1, whilst Auxerre averaged 53% possession in Ligue 2. The Parisians averaged 77.2 attacks per game, with Auxerre averaging 79.2 attacks per game. PSG reached 16 good scoring chances per game, with just over six resulting in dangerous shots on goal. Auxerre managed almost 11 good scoring chances per game, with five of these ending with dangerous shots on goal.