It’s been a year, eleven months and 19 days since Barcelona last lifted a title, La Liga. That’s 721 days, and it means that, as noted by Diario Sport, this evening’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao is more than simply the Copa. The blaugrana, and Ronald Koeman, really need a piece of silverware to mark the season.
Koeman knows that a season without a trophy will make his life more difficult, and is said to be completely focused on bringing home the trophy from Seville. Joan Laporta has given Koeman his full confidence, but the Dutchman knows the intensity of expectation that falls upon the man in charge at Camp Nou and how quickly narratives can change. For that, there’s so much riding on this final, especially after he’s overseen big-moment failures in the Supercopa de Espana against Athletic, the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain and La Liga against Real Madrid.
The word from behind the scenes is that he’s working with a special intensity, cogniscent that this is the opportunity of his career. Standing before him this evening is an Athletic team that aren’t living their best moment. They’ve scored just twice in the last five games, and haven’t won in six. Marcelino will be keen to put right the wrongs of a fortnight ago, when his Athletic team put up a flaccid performance in a historic final against their greatest rivals. If they could pair a Copa with their Supercopa from earlier this season, the campaign would be a phenomenal success.