Despite missing Valencia’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal victory while on USMNT duty, Yunus Musah finds himself one step away from competing for his first trophy in Spain, with giant-killers Athletic Bilbao in the way.
While Musah was trying to avoid frostbite in St. Paul Minnesota, his Valencia teammates were back in a much warmer climate, celebrating their nervy 2-1 quarterfinal win over Cadiz, which needed a late winner to finally put them through.
Musah and his Valencia teammates were certainly celebrating again one day after their victory, when Athletic knocked off favorites Real Madrid thanks to an 89th-minute goal, thus giving any of the four remaining teams a realistically equal shot of lifting the final trophy in Sevilla in late-April.
The semifinal will occur over two legs, with the first already taking place in the middle of next week. On Wednesday, Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano will kick off their first leg in Madrid, while Valencia and Athletic will play 24 hours later in the Basque country.
The second leg will occur three weeks later, with Valencia hosting the return game in the evening on Wednesday, March 3.
The path to the semifinal has been filled with a number of too-close-for-comfort wins by Valencia, with all of their games so far coming against underdogs in lower leagues, or, as was the case with Cadiz, in a much lower place in the La Liga standings.
Musah has been the main man for Valencia so far in this competition, netting a pair of goals and an assist in the four games in which he played, generally receiving rave reviews, and using the performances as a seeming springboard to more first-team action in league play as of late.
He now finds himself three games away from the trophy with the eight-times winners, although in a likely unexpected statistic, Athletic have won the competition an astounding 23 times, second only to Barcelona’s 31 titles (and four ahead of Real Madrid).
Valencia are next back in action on Sunday with a tough La Liga visit from Real Sociedad. With Musah having just returned from an exhausting trio of frozen games in North American, and only four days between Sunday’s game and the first let of the Copa semifinal, a likely scenario is that he will be kept as a bench option this weekend and return to a starting role in the midweek.
Copa del Rey Semifinal Draw
Rayo Vallecano – Real Betis
Athletic Bilbao – Valencia (Yunus Musah)