Carlos Soler impressively beat Jordi Alba for pace before assisting goal in Copa del Rey final

Carlos Soler & Jordi Alba

Barcelona comfortably retained the La Liga title but it's a season that ends with a disappointing feeling given the nature of their two cup competition defeats.

The Catalan giants threw away a three-goal first leg advantage in the Champions League as they lost 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield and were knocked out at the semi-final stage.

On Saturday night, Barca failed to win the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2013-14 after losing 2-1 to an inspired Valencia side in the final at Real Betis' Benito Villamarin.

With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both injured, Ernesto Valverde started Sergi Roberto on the right-wing, Lionel Messi as a false nine and the struggling Philippe Coutinho on the left.

The under-pressure Barca manager was able to select his first-choice back four but the usually rapid Jordi Alba was beaten for pace in a crucial race which led to Valencia's second goal.

Jordi Alba's 2018-19 campaign

Jordi Alba has actually enjoyed a superb 2018-19 campaign, registering three goals and an impressive 13 assists in 54 matches across all competitions.

However, the ex-Valencia man contributed to his former side doubling their advantage in the Copa del Rey final when he was simply incapable of dealing with a run from Carlos Soler.

Carlos Soler on the ball with Jordi Alba close by

Soler rips Alba apart in Copa del Rey final

In the 33rd-minute, Valencia moved the ball up the pitch from goalkeeper Jaume Domenech and a ball was played in behind the Barca defence on the right flank.

As you can see further down the page, the pass led to a head-to-head battle for pace between Alba and 22-year-old Soler - who has racked up 49 games this term.

Alba, playing his 300th match for Barcelona, had a slight head-start but couldn't match the blistering speed of Valencia's Soler as they both sprinted towards the ball.

Not only did the young midfielder beat Barca's 30-year-old in a race, he maintained his acceleration to ensure Alba couldn't catch him after he touched the ball.

As he entered the box, Soler, who was born in Valencia and has spent his entire career at the club, supplied a lethal cross for Rodrigo to head home his 15th goal of the season.

Some of the world's quickest wingers have struggled to out-pace Alba over the years, and the fact that Soler has 76 pace on FIFA 19 (Alba has 93) sums up how eye-opening the moment was.

The youngster can also play in central midfield but lined up in right-midfield and assisted what turned out to be the decisive goal as Valencia coach Marcelino deployed a 4-4-2 system.

Soler on the ball during Barcelona 1-2 Valencia

Los Che's topsy-turvy season has ended better than they could've imagined, finishing fourth in La Liga and lifting their first trophy since 2008 - when Soler was just 11-years-old.

How highly do YOU rate Soler's ability to beat Alba for pace and set up Rodrigo's goal in Valencia's win over Barca? Leave YOUR opinions in the comments box below!

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