Athletic Bilbao could make history in two Copa Del Rey finals in April
April 2021 will be a historic month for Athletic Bilbao.
In two weeks, the Spanish club will participate in two major cup finals of the same competition: the Copa del Rey. On April 3, they will face Basque rivals Real Sociedad, while on April 17 they will play record champions. Barcelona, who has won the cup 30 times.
Bilbao will have two chances to win the Copa del Rey trophy for the first time since 1984, when they also won La Liga, winning a Spanish brace in the process. It’s a golden opportunity for the proud club, which are one of the most successful teams in Spanish football, winning eight league titles and 23 Copa Del Rey since 1903.
Athletic Bilbao have two chances to make history
Two finals in two weeks for Athletic Bilbao
The reason why Bilbao is competing in two cup finals of the same competition in two weeks is due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has rocked the world in the past year.
The final against Real Sociedad is of the 2020 competition, and like all football last season, was postponed due to the virus. Despite the return of Spanish football during the summer, the final was delayed until April 2021, with the hope that the supporters will return by then. Because Bilbao and Sociedad are such fierce rivals, both clubs wanted this momentous event to take place in front of a crowd of any size.
Unfortunately, the optimistic plan fell through due to the resurgence of the virus in Europe during the winter months. Therefore, the final will take place behind closed doors, like most sports since March 2020.
The final against Barcelona is this season’s competition, and Bilbao could enter as defending champions if they win on April 3. In fact, these two clubs have already met in the cup final earlier this year, when Bilbao defeated Barcelona 3-2 in the Spanish Super Cup in January.
Therefore, due to the revamped schedule, Bilbao could win three trophies in 2021, although the game against Real Sociedad would technically count for the 2020 season.
The Marcelino effect
Club manager adds additional intrigue in pursuit of Bilbao Cup success Marcelino García Toral. The club named the 55-year-old Spaniard on January 4th hoping he could translate his high-flying Spanish past to the San Mames.
Marcelino last won the Copa del Rey in 2019, as manager of Valencia CF, who defeated Barcelona 2-1 in the final, winning the club’s first piece of silverware since 2008. As it was the last contested Copa del Rey final, he could potentially lift the trophy three times in a row, if Bilbao beat Real Sociedad and Barcelona .
Of the 17 games under Marcelino so far, Bilbao have won nine times – a race that included victories over Real Madrid and Barcelona to win the Super Cup. Overall, he has lost just three matches, twice to Barcelona and once to the league leaders. Atletico Madrid.
Although he has only been in charge of Bilbao for a few months, Marcelino may become a club legend if he can deliver a Copa del Rey (or two) to Basque fans next month.
Bilbao’s season so far
The possibility of winning two trophies in two weeks has also helped to mask Bilbao’s mundane league season. They are in 10th place, with only 34 points (after 27 matches), which is only enough to be seated in the middle of the table. They are not in danger of relegation but are not in contention for the top six European places either.
However, a victory in the final against Barcelona would guarantee the club’s participation in the UEFA Europa League next season. Even with 11 games remaining in the league, Bilbao’s season takes place over these two weeks of April.
Marcelino has made progress. Before taking over, Bilbao took over only 21 points of the first 17 league games, while scoring 20 goals and conceding 19. In 10 league games, Marcelino helped Bilbao claim 13 points, scoring 17 goals in the process.
Ultimately, his real magic manifested itself in cup competitions, leading Bilbao to a Super Cup title, as well as a place in the club’s second consecutive Copa del Rey final.
A decisive month
If Bilbao are to win one or both of the upcoming Copa del Rey finals, it will be well deserved as their opponents have had strong seasons so far. Rivals Real Sociedad currently sit fifth in La Liga, while Barcelona are second and haven’t lost a league game. since early December 2020.
Nonetheless, Athletic Bilbao are fortunate enough to taste Copa del Rey glory for the first time in 37 years, and they have two trophy cracks. Moreover, they can become the first club in Spanish history to retain the cup title in the same month. After an unpredictable last year, anything is really possible.
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