Chronicle: His Royal Highness | Athletic

The Real society conquered the King’s Cup 2020 in a final that surpasses the limits of extreme rivalry with the Athletic Club de Bilbao and that gives an extraordinary blow to the balance between the two. After a drought of decades on both sides, the txuriurdin team took the cat to the water in a fair soccer match and in which a penalty from Oyarzabal led to glory to the donostiarras. 34 years later, the Royal regains the crown and does so with merit and against the eternal rival, in a function of unbeatable outcome.

The end of the Copa del Rey 2019-2020 It was played in 2021 due to extraordinary circumstances that we all know by now. The coronavirus pandemic has marked our lives and did the same with the title match in the KO tournament, until it overlapped with that of the following year. Months after sealing his pass, Athletic – which plays the two finals – and Real society they drew a scenario of difficult equality in the national panorama. It was not only a derby, but also a chance to remember what it’s like to win a title for two clubs not used to it in recent history.

The line-ups for the game, therefore, were going to mark the future of it. The clash of styles of his coaches, too. The pragmatism of Marcelino, which has given him such good results with different teams, gave the classic 4-4-2 to an Athletic that stood out for its attacking duo, formed by Williams and Raúl García, and that of centrals, with Yeray and Íñigo Martínez knowing that they would have to shrink during various phases of the meeting.

For its part, the Real de Imanol Sheriff manages a more creative libretto, guided by the brushstrokes of an excellent artist such as David Silva, the journey of Mikel Merino and the sharpness of their dynamic duo, Alexander Isak and Mikel Oyarzabal, who would try to decant the balance from the txuriurdin side. No audience on stage The Cartuja from Seville, there was no polemics with the anthem and the reception of His Majesty Felipe VI, present in the box of authorities as is tradition in ‘his’ tournament.

The Basque derby was already spicy enough to add another ingredient to the equation. The maximum equality was going to come endowed with an extra dose of epic, thanks to the downpour that fell in The Cartuja from the first minutes of the game. The players did not know whether to shrink their ball area or the water from which they even had to retaliate every few seconds to continue with their work. The result of this, together with the logical initial trial, was a lot of noise – and drops – and few nuts, with Remiro and Unai Simón unpublished as regards actions of importance.

La Real was looking for combinations in the middle, but the Athletic, with less possession, he tried to verticalize as much as possible and be sharp at each arrival. In what they tied, as could be foreseen, was in the courage to which each player turned to each duel, in a warrior battle raised to the maximum expression and in which the instructions of the coaches were very similar. Before winning, the main thing was not to lose the final.

Without mistakes and successes counted, the duel was adding minutes until everything was left for the second half. Neither Real nor Athletic seemed uncomfortable on tables that were much more so for the viewer. The expectation was extraordinary, but the first 45 minutes had left little to stand out beyond the adjustments of Marcelino and Imanol in pursuit of not giving an iota in their positions towards victory.

A penalty and VAR restart

Nothing at all in the first half, but everything was waiting for the second, at least as far as the controversy is concerned, and with a clear protagonist. Íñigo Martínez cut a center to the Oyarzabal area and, involuntarily, it was his arm that prevented the ball from continuing on its way. Missing and nothing else … until the VAR review. Two minutes of uncertainty and millimeter calculations from the VOR room did not, miraculously, lead to a penalty favorable to Real.

Was fought Inigo to the first but not to the second, and even so, he had to hit a song in his teeth. A stratospheric pass of Mikel Merino to Portu He was intercepted, in clear fault, by the Athletic center-back, who was expelled and without protesting too much an action in which he is last man. Nevertheless, the VAR was knocking on the door again and this time to call Estrada Fernández. The penalty was perfectly marked, but the red one had to be replaced by yellow. Minor prize for Athletic, who saw how Oyarzabal, without a previous jump and defying his recent curse, converted the penalty throughout the squad to make it 0-1.

The Athletic He had half an hour to come back, in an 11 against 11 that could not be such and have complicated the affront to Marcelino’s. To do this, they had to appear at once active as Muniain or Williams, practically unpublished until now, and a physique that allowed the rojiblancos to overwhelm their eternal rival.

Glory is real

With the score in favor, the Real remained comfortable and the Athletic it paid the toll of tension. Without ideas and with less and less minutes to play, Marcelino’s men needed to take risks and they did so with the entrance of the Buffalo Villalibre, who had to be the trumpeter who would guide the express resurrection of the rojiblancos if they did not want to lose the Cup.

The game was practically free of elaborate actions, and the clay once again dominated with an iron fist in a sum of minutes, towards the end of the game, which only favored the Real society. Less than ten to be disputed – plus the discount – and Athletic’s desperation led him, voluntarily but unconsciously, to lean into the rival area thanks also to the classic withdrawal of the partial winner. La Real was shrinking with eleven and the tactic was already moving to a secondary place for him. Athletic, but his offensive baggage prevented any hint of a tie.

The discount minutes, up to eight, far from looking like a world, were a celebration dance for the Real society, again more comfortable in a duel of almost nothing from which they could get absolutely everything, in the form of a title that changes history and gives meaning to a project so far more beautiful than effective, but from the beginning April 3, 2021 reaches its zenith.