Copa del Rey: Athletic Bilbao loses its first final, but has a second chance against FC Barcelona
And in the years to come, the Copa del Rey final around 2021 is likely to provide a lot of football questions.
On Saturday, Real Sociedad won the 2020 Copa del Rey final, beating Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao 1-0. The Basque Country is in the north of Spain.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 finals had been delayed in hopes that fans could attend. This proved impossible and Saturday’s centerpiece was played at Seville’s La Cartuja stadium without supporters.
In a generally disappointing game, Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal netted a second-half penalty that gave La Real their first Copa del Rey triumph in 34 years.
“It’s an incredible day,” Oyarzabal told reporters. “You remember everyone, everyone who would have loved to be here, people who left us. It’s for everyone, my family, my friends. It means everything.”
Losing a flagship game always leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when it’s against another Basque team – it was the first time in history that Athletic played La Real Sociedad in a Copa del Rey final. . Eighteen of the 22 players who started on Saturday were Basque.
The request by both clubs to delay the final to ensure fans can attend has denied Athletic a potential Europa League place.
The good news for Athletic is that he will also play in the 2021 Copa del Rey final on April 17 against Barcelona. This final will also take place in La Cartuja.
“When you play in a final and you lose, it’s a very difficult time,” Athletic manager Marcelino García Toral told the club’s website.
“We were not ourselves and when we stray from our usual version, what happened to us can happen. They outscored us and we have to congratulate them on their victory,” added Marcelino.
“We said before the game that the details were going to be decisive and that in those details Real were superior.
“I’m not disappointed, before the game I was very proud of my players and still am, but I’m sad.
“Fortunately, we have two finals in 15 days and from tomorrow we will try to improve gradually every day in order to be at our best for the game against Barca.”
Athletic captain Iker Munian added: “We have to look up, there are important things at stake this season.
“On the 17th we have another final. We will do our best to win it, we owe it to the fans. We will start working tomorrow.”
Back in Bilbao, Athletic fans clashed with police ahead of the final after officers tried to prevent people from gathering in large numbers in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, according to Reuters.
“You don’t represent the values of our athletics or our city. Please some common sense and let us have some fun.”
Athletic have won the Copa del Rey 23 times as well as eight La Liga titles, but haven’t won a major trophy since 1984.
Nonetheless, it’s an impressive record of success considering Athletic’s policy to develop a young player and only choose players from the Basque region – born in or with Basque parents.
The Basque Country is one of the most autonomous regions in Spain, with its own police, education system, language and tax agreements, according to Reuters.