On Wednesday, the Copa del Rey will provide a match between two of the competition and the Liga BBVA's longest-serving teams. More than one hundred players have booted up to take part in the 30 editions of this clash between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Fútbol. Now, two of its old stars analyse the importance of the tie for LFP.es.
Blaugranas and txuri-urdines have met in four finals, and Barcelona won all of them (1913, 1928, 1951 and 1988). The last one came with Luis Aragonés at the helm and thanks to a goal from José Ramón Alexanko in the 60th minute. John Benjamin Toshack was coaching the team from Donostia and could only look on as the trophy slipped away from his team. "At that time, and with a two-leg match, anything could happen. It was a different era, matches were a lot tougher, the atmosphere was more hostile and it was very difficult playing away from home", remembers ex-Barcelona player Julio Salinas.
He scored the goal that decided the 1989/90 quarter-final match against Real (0-1). It came in the first leg, and a draw in the second (3-3) sealed Johann Cruyff's team's passage to the next round. That was the last time the two clubs met in the Copa. "This time Barça is the favourite again, but Real Sociedad can hurt them. Both of their strikers are in fine form and the azulgrana defence are not looking so good", commented Salinas.
Legendary Real player Mikel Lasa shares this opinion. "You have to be realistic and keep your feet on the ground. It is very difficult to beat this Barcelona side, but I hope Real are brave and lucky and are able to reach the final. Also, this season they are playing a very attractive brand of football".
The two clubs have met in the cup 30 times, and the team from Gipuzkoa has only won on three of those occasions: in the group stage in the 1927/28 season and in the last sixteen in 1968/69 and 1979/80. Barça has won the clash 19 times, and 13 have ended in a draw.
This time, Real will be bidding to make history by winning against a team it has not beaten in the competition since the 13th of March 1980 (3-0). But they will be faced by one of the best, a side that has reached 35 finals and whose trophy cabinet includes 26 cups.