Valencia vs Athletic Club Bilbao
Athletic to win on penalties- 17/2!
Between them, these two have featured in each of the last four Copa del Rey finals, with both desperate to be back at Estadio de La Cartuja on 6 May.
Valencia have won this competition eight times, most-recently beating Barcelona four years ago, but have endured financial difficulties since then.
In the subsequent three seasons, los Murciélagos have finished ninth, 13th and ninth in La Liga, and look set for more mid-table mediocrity.
On Monday night, Gennaro Gattuso’s team were held to a 2-2 draw by Almería, despite twice leading through Justin Kluivert and then José Luis Gayà.
Having now won just one of their last nine, los Che have sunk down to 12th.
So, could the Copa del Rey continue to provide light relief, as was the case last season when Valencia reached the final, beaten on penalties by Betis?
In this year’s competition, los Che have already swatted aside La Nucía and Sporting Gijón, so now, back at home, will their passionate support roar them into the last four?
Athletic Club Bilbao meantime have hoisted aloft this trophy on 23 occasions, only Barça can boast more, although they’ve lost all six finals since last doing so in 1984.
This includes being beaten in not one but two finals back in April 2021, played just a fortnight apart.
This time round, Ernesto Valverde’s team have, so far, seen off Alzira, Sestao River Club, Eldense and then Espanyol.
Meanwhile, in La Liga, Athletic’s form has fallen off a cliff; they won five of their first seven, but have only won two of 11 since then.
On Sunday night, the Lions were beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid at San Mamés, extending their winless streak to four games.
In short, this tie is extremely tough to call, so those in attendance at Mestalla should expect to be in for the long haul.