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Athletic Bilbao: Basque-ing in Glory

Started on 18 July 2013 by Verdinho
Latest Reply on 4 September 2013 by Rablador
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To win the cup would be a great achievement and it would make up for missing out on the title more or less. I am enjoying this a lot :P
Good luck in the Cup final! After defying the odds all season it will be great if you do it one more time! :D

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!!!

Final Score

Tough loss :( That's exactly how I lost in a Final with Pyunik once, and the same as my first season too. We reached the Final and dominated the league but in the end we lost both :/

Although, great writing, and you already have a CL place which is great, keep it up!! :D
Sorry about the defeat! I really thought you had it there! Good story you will win next time :)
Amazing, Simply amazing, the way you are able to draw the reader in and keep them interested is something we can all learn. Keep up the great work managing and making this story look wicked!

Best of luck in the future with your team, with you leading anything is possible!
HAHAHAHAHAHA Beat in the Final!!! Oceano who?

Just Kidding :P Unlucky but some great updates of late!
finally got to the end of it all, terrific story mate, it can only get better!
Hamoudi: - Lets hope I do as well domestically as you have with Pyunik :) Champions League was always my ultimate goal from day one this season.

Beany: - Thanks :)

Bourani: - Thanks dude! That means a lot to see you enjoying it. That's all I work for :D

Nathaniel: - Thanks :P

TCO: - Thanks a lot! :) Glad to see you have been following


Tito Vilanova has announced that he will be stepping away from football and the end of the season to dedicate himself to his own health.

Vilanova who masterminded a dramatic late win versus Athletic Bilbao for the Copa Del Rey final and clinched back the La Liga title from Real Madrid is to focus on his long battle with cancer.

In an emotional press conference attended by players and staff, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell explained the process that was to take place.

"After evaluating the results of routine rests this week Tito Vilanova has been presented with the option of carrying out a treatment to continue to control his illness which will make it incompatible to carry out the role of first team coach from now on.

"I want to ask everyone, especially the media, in the name of his family to show the maximum respect for the privacy of the whole process which will start now.

"I want to say that life goes on, this is a huge blow, a very hard blow, for Barcelona but Barcelona has suffered many blows and we have always overcome those blows and today will not be an exception. I ask everyone to think about people first and the club after."

Tributes for Vilanova have flown in with recent opposition Oceano Cruz being the first to comment on his departure.

“It’s an incredibly delicate time but one that we are very optimistic over good news. Vilanova is a fantastic person first and foremost, secondly a brilliant sport and one I take great pride in coming up against.

“He’s a very worthy winner, both this season and in life and we would like to offer our complete support to Tito and his family in making a speedy recovery.”

Barcelona will now begin their search for a new manager for the 2013/14 season with Oceano himself, Jurgen Klopp and Guus Hiddink linked to the job Vilanova will leave vacant after the last game of the season.
Nice update mate!
Just read the King's Cup final update and how close you were!! It was great writing and had me willing on Bilbao all the way! Great updates lately :D
Sorry about the cup loss mate, f*ck Barca! ;)
Was away to say about the mucked-up line-up, I was like "Benat up front and Saborit behind him!?! Eh!?"
Saborit is fantastic btw :)
2013-07-27 22:50#123413 Rablador : Sorry about the cup loss mate, f*ck Barca! ;)
Was away to say about the mucked-up line-up, I was like "Benat up front and Saborit behind him!?! Eh!?"
Saborit is fantastic btw :)

Haha yeah I know, I must have clicked something wrong and everything got jumbled. Hopefully I didn't cause to much confusion. :)

May 2013 Part 2

Athletic Bilbao 2 – 1 Rayo Vallecano

La Liga Table

Our Player of the Month

Mikel San Jose

Mikel San Jose continued his fantastic form over into month, scoring in two occasions and leading by example. He was again organised and confident in all our games, providing a great help when needed with performance ratings over 7.00 in all our clashes in May.

Oceano’s Verdict

It was a tough month, more so mentally than potentially and that was made clear by our defeat versus Granada, a team we should beat. However, I can understand it happens after the fantastic season we had. It’s a shame we have no trophy to show for it having lost the Copa Del Rey final but more opportunities will come and to finish second is a fantastic achievement for us. A massive well done for the squad.

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