Football fans prepare yourselves for the second installment of a four part El Clásico roller coaster-ride, Wednesday's Copa del Rey final.
It has been a long time since we were treated to an El Clásico match-up in the Copa, let alone in the final. The 1996-97 season was the last time, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid met in this competition, the last 16 phase
One has to dig deep in the history books to figure out when these two storied sides last met time in a final, the 1989-90 season.
If you are an avid reader of Barca Blaugranes you have probably stumbled across my first article about El Clásico, in La Liga. Consider this as part two of the journey and join me after the jump for an in-depth look into the history of the El Clásico in the Copa del Rey.
The Copa del Rey (King's Cup) was inaugurated in 1902, the first nation-wide tournament, established 27 years prior to La Liga. But according to the RFEF (the Royal Spanish Football Federation) the Copa del Rey started in 1903, but that is another story altogether. As I'm not associated with the RFEF, I will use the year that is quoted by everybody except the aforementioned Federation.
The Spanish Cup is the only competition where Barcelona enjoy a winning record against their eternal rivals, Real Madrid.
Notwithstanding the Copa de la Liga, a tournament that lasted only four years, with Barcelona winning two and drawing four of the six games against Real Madrid.
Nevertheless, let's get back to the matter at hand, the Copa del Rey; the Blaugrana have a positive record over the Merengue, having won fourteen games, losing nine and drawing five.
In cup competitions the goal difference remains an all-important statistic. In this department FC Barcelona also hold the advantage over the Spanish capital team, albeit just slightly. Barca is outscoring Real 59-55, despite the fact that Real Madrid recorded the largest victory, 11-1 (yes, you read that right).
Let's take a closer look on a round-by-round basis.
In the round of last 16, Barcelona and Real Madrid only met once, during the 1996-97 season. Barca walked out as victors, and went on to lift the trophy, beating Real Betis in the final.
In all of the quarter-finals contested thus far, between those two sides (five times) Barcelona have been the more successful side. FC Barcelona got the better of their rivals the first three times they met at this stage, in 1926, 1956-57 and 1958-59 respectively.
Real Madrid returned the courtesy in the 1961-62 and 1969-70 seasons. The winner of this match-up would eventually lift the trophy every single time.
Incidentally, Barca and Real would also meet each other another five times in the semi-finals, but this time the roles were reversed.
In this constellation, it was Real Madrid who advanced to the finals three times, in 1916, 1943 and in 1992-93. Barcelona would "only" win when they first met, in the Cup's inauguration year in 1902, and in the 1953-54 season.
In 1916 each team won one game, but because there was no set tie breaker, they had to play a third game. As luck would have it, the appointed referee for this fixture, José Ángel Berraondo, a former Madrid player and club member.
With Berraondo's help Los Merengues managed to scrape a tie after extra time and force game four. Once again the game was refereed by Berraondo, and because he blatantly ignored several calls, Barcelona players left the pitch in extra time while trialing by two, forfeiting the game and subsequently the semis.
1943 was the year, in which one of the dirtiest games ever in Spanish football history was contested.
After Real Madrid lost the first leg in Barcelona by the score of 3-0, Spanish Dictator, and self-confessed Real Madrid fan, General Franco made sure that Real Madrid's progression was secured. "Visits" were made to the Barcelona locker room before kick-off, Madrid fans were given whistles upon entering the ground and to top it off, the referee was bought too. The result was a home win by the score of 11-1.
Interestingly enough, the winner of the El Clásico semi-final bout only twice went on to win the competition; Barcelona in 1954 and Real in 1993.
The two sides have met a total of five times in the finals, with Barcelona holding a slightly better record of three wins to two, winning finals in 1968 (1-0), 1983 (2-1) and 1990 (2-0), while losing in 1936 (2-1) and 1974 (4-0).
On Wednesday, 20 April, another chapter will be written and this magnificent rivalry will decide who will take home the silverware. Will the most successful club in history of the competition, Barcelona, pick up their 26th or will Real Madrid win their 18th? We'll see...
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