After much wait, the final of the Copa del Rey, also known as the King’s Cup, a tournament for Spanish “football” teams, took place. And what a match it would be!
Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two biggest teams and arch-rivals in Spain, battled for their first title this season, and Madrid emerged victorious 2-1.
Before recapping, let’s look at some of the cons both sides faced.
Real Madrid entered this match sans Cristiano Ronaldo after coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed in a press conference Ronaldo would be unable to play, although Madrid’s star player could return in time for the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich. Real Madrid was also missing other key players such as Sami Khedira, Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Jese Rodriguez.
On the other hand, Barcelona has been going through a rough patch.
First, they were eliminated from the Champions League, then they lost against Granada, knocking them down a spot in the Spanish League. And let’s not forget they are in the process of appealing the FIFA ban imposed against them, and now even the fans are calling for coach Gerard “Tata” Martino’s resignation.
With all that said, let’s recap this final!
Who would net first? To the demise of the Catalan fans, Real Madrid netted first with a brilliant goal by Angel Di Maria in the 11th minute! The goal not only favored Madrid on the scoreboard, but catalyzed their first half domination the first half, which made the Catalans seem lost and on the defensive.
After half-time, Real Madrid tried to seal the game but in the 68th minute, Marc Bartra put the Catalans back in the game with an amazing header and restoring faith in the fans as well.
With 20 minutes left in the game and the score tied at one, it seemed Barcelona had reacquired its confidence! It was anybody’s game, and it was just a matter of who wanted to lift the cup more.
Barcelona made some key plays, as well as Madrid, but the score remained tied, and if no team scored before the end of regular time, the game would go into a half-hour of extra time. But before that actually became an option, the former Tottenham player, one of Real Madrid’s most expensive players, Gareth Bale, stepped up and sprinted across to score a fantastic goal in the 85th minute, all but exterminating Barcelona’s hopes of acquiring a trophy this year.
If you missed Gareth Bale’s fantastic goal, here is the video!
In the 90th minute there was a slimmer of hope for Barcelona when Neymar hit the post, but the ball landed in the hands of Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas, ending Barcelona’s last-second chance and sealing Madrid’s first title of the season.
What’s next for both teams?
For Barcelona, it seems the era of Gerard Martino has been the grayest for the club since the arrival of former Coach Pep Guardiola in the 2008-2009 season.
First, Barcelona was eliminated during the Champions League quarterfinals which crushed the hope of a UEFA Champions League cup this year. Then Atletico Madrid continues to be the leader in the Spanish League, and after losing to Granada, Barcelona missed three valuable points in a race that continues to be closely contested and where there is no room for errors.
Now with Wednesday’s Copa del Rey defeat, Barcelona may have no chance of acquiring any silverware this season considering how Barca must rely on Atletico and Madrid to slip up to have a chance at winning the Spanish League title. And there’s continuing rumors that Martino will depart in the summer coupled with the FIFA ban that may prevent Barcelona from signing new players in the next open windows should it be enforced this summer and next winter.
Barcelona, with all its issues, is no longer the team it once was.
Real Madrid is in a much better situation despite beginning the season a bit rusty and losing key players to injury. Madrid is still a force to be reckoned with as they sit in second place in the Spanish League. And now Madrid has proven it can be successful without star player Cristiano Ronaldo. Bale can step up when he is needed the most, and proved worth the cost. For the season’s remaining weeks, Madrid’s quest for the triple remains alive.
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