On Tuesday night, Carlo Ancelotti's side became the first team in the competition's history to reach the final of the Copa without conceding a single goal after advancing with a 5-0 aggregate win over last year's winner Atletico.
But Barcelona's route to the final was similarly impressive, with Gerardo Martino's men winning all but one of their games on their way to the meeting with Madrid on April 19, sealing their spot in the showpiece thanks to a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad on Wednesday.
|THE SIX CLASICO COPA DEL REY FINALS
|RM 2-1 FCB||Mestalla
|FCB 1-0 RM
|RM 4-0 FCB
|FCB 2-1 RM||Romareda||1983|
|FCB 2-0 RM||Mestalla||1990|
|RM 1-0 FCB||Mestalla||2011|
That final, however, is remembered for a stunning save by legendary goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora in what was his last game in Spain. The shot-stopper, who gave his name to the annual trophy awarded to the best goalkeeper in La Liga and is still considered one of the finest in the history of La Roja, won two Copas del Rey for Barcelona but denied his hometown team in this game, winning the competition - then called Copa de La Republica - twice with Real Madrid. His save in the final minute from Josep Escola kept the scores at 2-1 and Los Blancos went home with the cup, which wasn't played again until 1939 (when the Civil War was over).
Barcelona had to wait over three decades to make amends, but the Catalans did win the next Clasico final - and they did it at the Santiago Bernabeu. In a meeting marked by controversy, Barca took the title thanks to a sixth-minute own-goal by Fernando Zunzunegui and received what was at the time the Copa del Generalisimo from the man who gave the trophy its name, infamous Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
The third meeting came in 1974. Madrid had lost 5-0 at home to a Johan Cruyff-inspired Barca in La Liga and was out for revenge. The Blancos got it at the Vicente Calderon. At that time, however, foreigners weren't allowed to play in the Copa, so Madrid was without German Gunter Netzer and Argentine Oscar Mas, while Barca was unable to pick Cruyff and Peru's Hugo Sotil. In a one-sided encounter, Madrid went ahead after seven minutes and went on to win 4-0, with Santillana and Pirri among the scorers.
Nine years passed before the two teams locked horns again in the final of the Copa del Rey, this time in a bad-tempered encounter played in Zaragoza. Diego Maradona, subjected to some crunching challenges by Jose Antonio Camacho and Paco Bonet, set up the first goal for Victor Munoz and although Santillana leveled for Madrid, Marcos Alonso headed home to ensure the trophy went back to Catalunya. Madrid, meanwhile, was known as "eternal runner-up", having finished second in Liga, Copa, Copa de La Liga, Cup Winners' Cup and the Spanish Supercopa that season.
Barca won again in 1990 in a tight match which was decided by second-half goals scored by Guillermo Amor and Julio Salinas, after Madrid's Fernando Hierro had been sent off in the first half. The trophy was the first won by Johan Cruyff as Barca boss, and the Dutchman thought he was close to the sack at the end of his second season. "We needed that trophy because it was the last option we had that season," Amor said. "At the club you heard certain things, but winning the Copa gave us confidence." Later, the Dream Team was born.
Back at Mestalla in 2011, Jose Mourinho then claimed his first silverware as Madrid coach. After a goalless 90 minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo rose in extra time to head home Angel Di Maria's left-wing cross and seal victory for Los Blancos, who finished with 10 men as the Argentine winger was sent off right at the end.
|He is one of a unique group of coaches, to which only he belongs, who criticize referees' correct decisions"
- Mourinho on Pep after Copa win in 2011
Barca thought it had gone ahead through Pedro in normal time, but the winger's strike was correctly - though marginally - ruled offside. Pep Guardiola later said that, but for "the assistant's good eyesight", Barca would have won the cup. Mourinho mocked his former friend, claiming he formed part of a unique group of coaches, to which only the Catalan belonged, made up of those who criticize the officials' correct decisions.
While a Clasico storm brewed ahead of the sides' Champions League semifinal meeting days later and Guardiola went on to hit back with his famous press-room rant, Madrid's Sergio Ramos famously dropped the cup from the top of the team's open-top bus and Lionel Messi sobbed in the dressing room.
What will happen next?
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