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14.05.2009 12:48

The Touré factor

Jordi Clos

The Ivory Coast international was the big surprise of Barça’s line-up for the Cup Final. His goal turned the match around for Messi and Bojan to clinch the result.

It worked well at Stamford Bridge, in the semi-finals of the Champions League and also at Mestalla, in the final of the Kings Cup. Given the problems in defence (Márquez and Milito injured and Abidal suspended), manager Pep Guardiola decided to put Touré Yaya in central defence alongside Gerard Piqué. A decision that proved decisive.

The goal that changed the final

_M3_9145.JPGIn the 32nd minute, with the score standing at 1-0 in favour of Athletic Club, Touré Yaya took the ball past Fernando Llorente and Orbaiz. From 25 metres he fired low and hard just inside the left-hand post of Gorka’s goal. The equalizer came at a vital moment. Despite the lion’s share of possession, Barça were struggling to create goal scoring opportunities.

Distribution and strength

Apart from the goal, Touré Yaya made a big contribution to the distribution of the ball out of defence and provided the raw strength to cancel out Athletic’s main goal threat Fernando Llorente. On his 26th birthday, Touré showed his leadership qualities and scored his third goal of the season (the other two were against Mallorca and Espanyol in the league).

Messi and Bojan, top scorers in the Cup

_M3_9649.JPGBarça’s second and third goals were scored by Leo Messi and Bojan Krkic. The Argentine seized on a loose ball after Gorka failed to hold onto an Eto'o shot while Bojan finished off a counterattack with a shot that came off the post. They are Barça’s top scorers in the Cup with six and five goals respectively.
The Touré factor

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Pinto on top in the Cup
José Manuel Pinto is the only Barça player to play every single minute of the Cup run. He is Barça’s number 2 keeper in the league but has played a full role in the Cup. He was vital in the semi-final when he saved a penalty from Martí.

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