Having dumped out Real Madrid in the previous round, Athletic Bilbao will aim to take one more step towards the final when they welcome Valencia to San Mames for the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the visitors arrive in the final four having eked out a narrow 2-1 win against Cadiz in the quarter-finals at the Mestalla Stadium.
Successfully gaining revenge on Real Madrid following their Super Cup heartache at the hands of Los Blancos, a full-strength Athletic Bilbao side got the job done over Carlo Ancelotti’s men in the quarter-finals courtesy of a 1-0 scoreline.
With 89 minutes on the clock, substitute Alex Berenguer notched the only goal of the encounter to propel his side into the final four of the competition, with Athletic also ending Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defence amid an eye-catching tournament run so far.
A 16-minute flurry of goals also saw Athletic warm up for the first leg of their semi-final with a 2-1 La Liga win over Espanyol thanks to strikes from Oihan Sancet and Inigo Martinez, meaning that Marcelino’s men arrive in the semi-finals having won their last four in all competitions.
Three of those victories have come at their San Mames headquarters as Athletic finally seek to right the wrongs of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 Copa del Reys – during which they finished as runners-up on both occasions – and an inconsistent Valencia may have their work cut out for them here.
Valencia’s Yunus Musah celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 22, 2022© Reuters
While Athletic Bilbao have been busy knocking Barcelona and Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey, Valencia were handed a scare against Cadiz in the quarter-finals but ultimately progressed thanks to Goncalo Guedes’s and Hugo Duro’s strikes against their 10-man visitors.
Results have been going the way of the Mestalla outfit in the Copa del Rey, but Valencia continue to falter in league action and were forced to accept a point in a goalless stalemate with Real Sociedad on Sunday – their fifth La Liga game without a win amid a downward slump in the division.
As Pepe Bordalas’s side remain in mid-table obscurity in the top flight, a shot at silverware in the form of the Copa del Rey – a trophy that has eluded them for only three years – will be welcomed with open arms, as the eight-time winners seek to channel the spirits of the 2018-19 heroes who sunk Barcelona in the final.
One saving grace for Valencia is the fact that six of their last eight matches in all competitions have ended in victory – including four of their Copa del Rey ties so far this term – and they did hold Athletic to a 1-1 draw at Mestalla in La Liga back in September.