MB – Mark Bolton GB – Guillem Balague
MS – Michel Salgado RP – Rob Palmer
GH – Graham Hunter
MB - Good Evening and welcome to today’s live coverage of the Copa Del Rey final in between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona. We are here at the Santiago Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid and joining us is Spanish football expert Guillem Balague and none other than ex-Galactico Michel Salgado.
MB – Michel, how do you rate Bilbao’s chances today?
MS – Well, you cannot rule any eventuality out here. Barcelona is favourites of course but anything can happen today. Barcelona will face one of the toughest Bilbao sides of recent years who have tasted victory against them already this season. It should be a close run thing.
MB – Bilbao’s form has slumped in recent games but in the League they remain the best defence. How important will that be for them?
MS – Massive! As you know, form tends to go out of the window in cup games so there is every possibility of a shock win. Confidence in a team comes from the back and Athletic Bilbao’s defence has been nothing short of heroic this season. There will be no better feeling for them than knowing they have Borja Ekiza and Mikel San Jose, two of the best players in La Liga this year, to take care of Barcelona’s fantastic attack.
MB – And fantastic it definitely is. Guillem, how important will the attack be for Barcelona?
GB – Very important of course because it is expected that Barcelona will aim to play in Bilbao’s half, everyone knows that. Bilbao will be as switched on as possible and Barcelona must take their opportunities. This Bilbao team rarely gives you a second chance.
MB – Is there another area of the field the game can be won?
GB – Yes and that will be the middle of the pitch. We know all about Barcelona’s midfield, it’s arguably the best in the world. They will try to dominate as much as they can and their task maybe easier since last time Bilbao beat them. There is no Ander Herrera who was fundamental to Bilbao’s midfield trio. With him at Chelsea, I don’t think Bilbao has been the same and that’s made evident by their recent slip-ups. We then know that Bilbao’s midfield isn’t fully fit. Oscar De Marcos is injured, Espericueta and Benat are not fully fit and Bilbao only has Iturraspe to rely on. Barcelona can make life very hard for Bilbao here.
MB – We shall see soon because our commentators for today, Rob Palmer and Graham Hunter are ready down at the Bernabeu with the team sheets as they await kick-off.
(For some reason, it mixed a few positions up for Bilbao, listen to GH)
RP – Thank you Mark and there we see the teamsheets. For Bilbao, Oscar De Marcos and Ibai Gomez are out but Benat is passed fit to play. Thoughts Graham?
GH – It’s a typical line-up from Bilbao and they’ve stuck to what they know. It’s not their first choice team either but we have seen a tactical change here for Oceano’s men. Enric Saborit starts on the left flank and as a natural left back, it will be Bilbao’s way to defend against Messi in an attempt to double up on him.
RP – There is no Andres Iniesta and no Sergio Busquets for Barcelona. Will that affect their structure?
GH – Possibly, Iniesta is obviously a big miss for any team and his influence in the midfield will be missed but I’d trust Xavi and Fabregas to still pull the strings. The issue will be defensively for Barcelona. As we know, 3 out of the 4 defenders at Barcelona like to attack and you just wonder if Alex Song will be disciplined enough and tactically aware to do Busquets’ job. He’s been criticised in the past both here and at Arsenal so today’s final could be a big day for him.
RP – Thank you Graham. The teams are out on the field as we await the referee’s whistle for kick off. And THERE IT GOES! WE ARE UNDERAWAY IN THIS COPA DEL REY FINAL!
RP - 22 – Neymar challenges Susaeta for a 50/50. It’s the Bilbao player who comes of worse as Neymar races as away. The Brazilian cuts in, past two and SHOOTS
… well wide of the target.
RP - 31 – Iraola, he’s been given a bit of space here, he continues to gallop forward into SPACE!!!
Not good enough from the Spaniard. That was a real chance to make Pinto work but the shot goes wayward.
RP - 34 – Benat looking for a pass here as Alex Song comes crashing in. A silly foul from Song but he escapes any sanctions. Benat will aim to launch this one into the box from 45 yards. San Jose and Ekiza are in the area. The ball goes towards ADURIZ AND HE GOES DOWN!!! The Bilbao players are protesting and THE REF POINTS TO THE SPOT!!!
GH – Yep! It was a clear penalty as we can see from the replays. Holger Badstuber is hugging Aduriz there as they both fell. It was the linesman who spotted it and it was a great call too. Silly from Badstuber.
RP – 36 - Again no card given by the ref as Mikel San Jose steps up to take the penalty. San Jose takes a short run-up… AND IT GOES STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE!!! 1-0 ATHLETIC BILBAO HERE IN THE COPA DEL REY FINAL!!!
GH – A cool penalty from the Bilbao centre back, very well taken and Barca have to wake up here!
RP – HT – We’re at the halfway point here at the Bernabeu. Athletic Bilbao 1, Barcelona 0 here at the Copa Del Rey final.
RP – Second half begins here as Barcelona makes a change. Montoya is replaced by full back Dani Alves.
RP – 74 – Susaeta launches a deep cross, Muniain can’t control it completely BUT SOMEHOW LOOPS IT OVER PINTOOOOO!!! Great clearance by Pique!!! Off the line!!!
GH – And will that be the chance to seal the cup for Bilbao? Will they rue that miss? Fantastic defending by Pique!
RP – 78 – A double switch for Bilbao here. Both Jorge Espericueta and Isma enter the field of play to replace Markel Susaeta and Iker Muniain, both have picked up a knock.
RP – 85 – Fabregas spots Neymar who appears in-field, Neymar squeezes past two and HITS IT!!! NEYMAARRRR!!! IT’S 1-1!!!
GH – OHOOOO!!! And now, will that chance by Muniain be in Bilbao’s head? What a finish from Neymar!
RP – 90 – And we’ve reached the end of 90 minutes. 1-1 is the score and we will enter Extra Time.
RP – Extra Time begins as Barcelona brings off Xavi for Javier Mascherano.
RP – 105 – Neymar whips in a corner and PIQUE!!! SO CLOSE
to the 2nd as the ref blows for half time of extra time!!!
GH – Top class save from Asier Riesgo!!! Pique does fantastically well to rise above all and direct a glancing header but Riesgo with an amazing reflex save keeps the scores level!
RP – We’re under away here for the second half of extra time. Only 15 minutes separates us from penalties and if any team was to get a goal now, you’d back that to be the winner surely Graham?
GH – Absolutely! This game is so close that just the sole goal can be the difference here today.
RP – 120 – Dani Alves works it with Messi with what can be the last roll of the dice, Alves with a poor cross but PIQUE!!! GERARD PIQUE HAS DONE IT!!! IN THE DYING SECONDS OF THE GAME, BARCELONA HAS SURELY WON IT!!!
GH – INCREDIBLE!!!
A killer blow from Pique! As we said before, he is a defender who loves to attack. He picked his chance here, arriving late into the box and scoring a terrific goal that nestled into the bottom left corner.
RP – 120+1 – Isma has the ball, do we have time for one last attack and the answer is no!!! BARCELONA ARE COPA DEL REY CHAMPIONS 2013!!!
ATHLETIC BILBAO 1 – 2 BARCELONA