Yep, we’re here in April 2021 and only now are fierce Basque rivals Athletic Club and Real Sociedad preparing to do battle in the 2019/20 Copa del Rey final. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Spanish FA to postpone last season’s […]
Yep, we’re here in April 2021 and only now are fierce Basque rivals Athletic Club and Real Sociedad preparing to do battle in the 2019/20 Copa del Rey final.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Spanish FA to postpone last season’s final, which was originally scheduled for April 18, 2020, and because of the busy schedule, they’ve only just found time to stage one of the most anticipated cup showdowns in years.
It’s been 34 years since either side lifted silverware, and the occasion is soured somewhat by the absence of both sides’ passionate set of fans. It should be an exciting final nevertheless, between two sides from a region of Spain who house just 4.6% of the country’s population,
Here’s all you need to know ahead of the game.
When is the match? Saturday 3 April
What time is kick off? 20:30 GMT
Where is it being played? Estadio de La Cartuja
TV Channel? ESPN (US)
Athletic boss Marcelino will have close to a full squad available to him. Midfielder Oier Zarraga will unfortunately miss the final because of a knee injury which will soon require surgery, but that is the only significant injury worry in his squad.
There may be slight concerns about the fitness of goalkeeper Unai Simon and defender Inigo Martinez, who endured a busy international break with Spain, but they will be keen to feature against their fierce Basque rivals.
The international break was very kind to Sociedad, who used the two weeks off to help their squad recover. Star duo Mikel Oyarzabal and Alexander Isak were both partly rested during the international break and should have plenty left in the tank.
The only absentee will be midfielder Luca Sangalli, ruled out because of a knee injury.
Athletic: Simon; De Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez, Berchiche; Muniain, Lopez, D. Garcia, Berenguer; R. Garcia, Williams.
Real Sociedad: Remiro; Zaldua, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Monreal; Illaramendi, Silva, Merino; Januzaj, Isak, Oyarzabal.
Athletic 1-1 Eibar (20/03)
Celta Vigo 0-0 Athletic (14/03)
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Athletic (10/03)
Athletic 2-1 Granada (07/03)
Levante 1-2 Athletic (04/
Real Sociedad 1-6 Barcelona (21/03)
Granada 1-0 Real Sociedad (14/03)
Real Sociedad 1-0 Levante (07/03)
Real Madrid 1-1 Real Sociedad (01/03)
Manchester United 0-0 Real Sociedad (25/02)
These are two sides who definitely will have wanted to play this match last season instead. Neither are coming into the game in particularly inspiring form, but of the two, it’s Real Sociedad who will be feeling more confident.
Ignoring their recent mauling at the hands of Barcelona, they are doing well in La Liga and looked like the best team in the country for a while before they hit a slump in December. On their day, they can beat anyone.
That being said, underestimate Athletic, rivalry aside, at your own peril. They’re doing well themselves, and they’ve already qualified for the final of the 2020/21 Copa del Rey as well. They could win and retain the cup in the space of just a few weeks, which will be cracking pub trivia in the future should they pull it off.
They may ultimately play second fiddle to Real Sociedad, who could edge a hotly contested game.
Prediction: Athletic 1-2 Real Sociedad