LThe kings of the Cup meet again in a final. A classic in this century because it is the fourth time that faces have been seen. The three previous ones were settled with Barcelona triumph. However, Athletic comes with the confidence that comes from having managed to prevail in the final of the Super Cup three months ago and having eliminated the Catalans in the previous edition of the Cup. Easy will not be for anyone. The game also has the incentive of Messi. Will it be your last final as a Barça player? It is the great question that the whole world of football is asking. Nobody knows what the future of Leo will be. A few months ago he was out of Barcelona, although reality indicates that now he is closer to staying. The rumors are constant. Information about it appears every day, but there will be nothing until Laporta makes a move.
The match is much more than a final for both teams. Barcelona know they cannot lose after missing the Super Cup and losing last weekend to Madrid. Although everyone knew that this year was going to be very complicated for the Catalans due to the situation in which they arrived and the changes produced at the beginning of the season, the good progress of the team in this 2021 invited them to dream of the Double.
Not winning tonight would be a harsh awakening from the dream and there would only be a league ahead in which today the boss is Real Madrid. In addition, Koeman’s future is already being questioned despite the great work he has done to make the team competitive again.
Endika Guarrotxena, scorer in the last Cup final won against Barcelona, launched a wish at the beginning of the two finals of this season: the former lion was satisfied if the two trophies ended in Euskadi. Endika’s plan raised the most passionate in arms because that happened by not winning the final with the Real, which is the one that all the rojiblancos wanted to have in the showcase. Lost that one, the fans would sign with blood the ideal scene of Endika.
Two endings in a row
Athletic will jump to La Cartuja without looking back. He can not do it. The blow with the Real still lasts for them. Not like to go out with a hat and glasses on the street – the rojiblanco world is easy to forgive – but to take into account that this Saturday is transcendent. Nobody imagines that it could be that of losing two finals in a row in two weeks nailed because the hole would be tremendous.
The duel is unique because if Athletic does not go ahead, it will go down in history as the team that has lost the most finals in a row (6) since it won its last title. The lions have fallen in this period against Atlético (1985), Barcelona (2009, 2012 and 2015) and Real Sociedad, in 2020 although it was played on April 3.
In that streak of five he is even with Real Madrid, which lost them in times of black and white (1918, 1924, 1929, 1930 and 1933). It is an obligatory Cup because it is almost 37 years since Dani lifted the last trophy after winning the 84 final.
The road to get here has not been easy at all. On the contrary, all the qualifying rounds have been heart-stopping. Barcelona had to play up to three extensions against Cornellá, Granada and Sevilla. And he reached the latter thanks to a goal in extremis from Piqué in the discount. Barcelona had never had a trajectory with so much suffering to get into a final like this season.
Extra time and penalties
And in Athletic, three-quarters of the same. The road has been cut by the pattern of shock, loaded with alterations and with the feeling that it was the day that everything was going to end. Athletic has been behind on the scoreboard in the five games it has played this season in the Cup. Ibiza, Alcoyano, Betis and Levante, this one in a double game, have been the opponents. In every match the team had one foot out of the next tie. And with Betis it was necessary to resort to penalties.