Barcelona face Athletic Bilbao this weekend in the final of the Copa del Rey at La Cartuja in Seville. Both sides have lost a final at La Cartuja already this season, with Barcelona losing to Athletic in the final of the Supercopa de Espana and Athletic losing to Real Sociedad in the final of the delayed 2020 final of the Copa.
Ronald Koeman will be hoping to win his first trophy as Barcelona coach in the game. A teammate of the Dutchman’s, Pep Guardiola, has been reminiscing about clashes he led against Athletic in the Copa when he was in charge of the blaugrana. His Barcelona teams won two Copa titles, both against the Basques.
“That day was something more emotional and more personal than in other finals, but I had to try to be cold,” Guardiola remembered in comments to TV3 carried by Diario AS. The second Copa final, in 2012, was his last in charge of Barcelona. “I remember going out onto the pitch and seeing the tension in the Athletic players. The Barcelona players, on the other hand, seemed like they were about to play a friendly. They were used to playing finals. They knew we were going to win.”
Barcelona won the game 3-0, with all goals scored in the first half an hour. Guardiola refuted the rumour, however, that at half time the Athletic players asked their opponents to slow down and take it easy on them. “I can tell you with total certainly that it wasn’t like that,” he said. “[Marcelo] Bielsa’s teams are educated in resistance and never give up. In addition, if the Barcelona players can score five, they score five, and if they can score eight, eight. They’re good people, but on the pitch they’re f****** assassins.”