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Spain - Copa del Rey
Copa del Rey
May 25, 2012
• Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan
• Attendance: 54850
Pedro 3', 25'
L. Messi 20'
Thank you for joining us on Goal.com! Stay tuned on Goal.com International for reactions on the match!
Pep Guardiola has revolutionised football in recent years and his management has given us special players playing extremely special football. Tito Villanova has his work cut out for him following the great man.
Barcelona are Spanish Cup champions!!! Full time in Madrid as a brace from Pedro and a Messi goal give Pep Guardiola one last win and one last trophy as manager of the Catalan side. Athletic Bilbao failed to turn up but this could be attributed to the fatigue accumulated over the course of a long season.
Two minutes of extra time added. Athletic seek a consolation goal from a corner kick. I Think Bielsa's men have wanted to hear the final whistle for a good while now
Pique drives out of defence and sends Thiago down the left hand-side. The substitute then rides the sliding challenge of Javi Martinez before cutting inside and fizzing a cross into the centre but Athletic manage to clear.
Third and final change for Barcelona as Thiago comes on to replace two-goal hero Pedro. Guardiola makes his last tactical switch as Barca manager.
Ash Sharma, our match live at Vicente Calderon, gives us his final update: "A deserved standing ovation from the barcelona fans for Xavi as he makes way for Fabregas."
The game has started to wind down in the past few minutes. After the third goal went in it never looked likely that Athletic would have the physical or mental strength to mount a comeback.
A very emotional moment now as Xavi comes off in his last appearance under Pep Guardiola. Two geniuses of football part ways. Cesc Fabregas is introduced into the action.
Pep Guardiola’s record in 246 official matches as Barça coach (excluding today) is 178 wins, 47 draws and 21 defeats. The end of a truly special period in Barcelona's history is upon us.
What a miss from Aurtenetxe! The left-back has plenty of space at the back post with the entire goal to aim at but sends his header wide of the post! The Athletic fans can't believe he has managed to miss!
Barca have never really looked under threat so far. Apart from a decent save from Pinto in the first half, Bielsa's men have not been close to creating a golden opportunity. Disappointing.
Athletic follow suit with a change of their own, and a curious one at that. Fernando Llorente is the man coming off and he will be replaced by Gaizka Toquero.
Yellow Card Iniesta
First change of the match for Barcelona as Alexis Sanchez comes off to be replaced by Ash Sharma's favourite Malian, Seydou Keita.
Barca so close to scoring a wonder goal! Messi takes it by around five Athletic players before lashing a cross along the six yard box but Athletic manage to desperately clear. The Catalans are probing for a fourth.
@Konyizee writes on Twitter: "I think Bilbao were stunned when Barca rushed to a commanding lead. They haven't really recovered since then" That seems to be the case, they looked shellshocked for the first half!
Yellow Card Xavi
Ash Sharma gives us another update, and our man at the match has some choice words for Seydou Keita: "Note to Keita: Dear Seydou. warming up means running up and down the touchline and stretching. Not standing there like a zombie watching the game with the occassional jog or even WALK!!"
Chance for Athletic!!! The ball is floated into the Barca box and Llorente powers a header at goal but it fortuitously cannons of Pique and is cleared to safety! Barca let off there!
Athletic's passing has not been up to scratch so far. Javi Martinez in particular has not gotten on the ball enough, and as a result the more dangerous players have been quiet up top.
The game continues to be very stretched. This may be playing into the hands of Barca as space is being created in dangerous areas.
Mr @oyedirance, thank you for having such impeccable taste in your choice of match coverage.
@oyedirance writes on Twitter: "Precison football is all I ask, with mechanical accuracy Only FC Barcelona can provide, and only @goal_intl can give such coverage off screen."
Ash Sharma gives us his first update from the second half: "First bit of subs activity on the touchline. Keita, Thiago and Cesc for Barca and Toquero, San Jose and Gabilondo warm up for Athletic. Meanwhile the first chants of Guardiola Guardiola bellow from the Barcelona end."
Barca have done well to stifle the early second half ascendancy of Athletic by taking the game down to a slower tempo. Clever play from the Catalans as the Bilbao fans, and players, are getting frustrated.
Terrific chance for Athletic! Ander slips a glorious pass through the middle and Ibai is one-on-one with Pinto but attempts to dink the ball over the on-rushing Barca goalkeeper! The ball goes wide!
Decent start to the second half from Athletic as they are passing the ball at a higher tempo. Lets see if they can turn this period of possession into some chances.
A couple of changes to report at half-time for Athletic as Susaeta and De Marcos are replaced by Ander Herrera and Inigo Perez.
Óscar De Marcos
The second half is underway! Athletic have a lot of work to do to save this game. It seemed written in the stars that Barca would claim a victory in Pep Guardiola's last game in charge. However, an early goal from Bielsa's men could put a spanner in the works.
Half time in the Spanish capital. Barcelona go into the break with a very healthy three-goal lead thanks to two goals from Pedro and a strike from Messi. Athletic with it all to do. Join us in 15 minutes for the second period!
Muniain has plenty of grass in front of him and drives at pace down the righ flank before driving a cross into the middle but Pinto shifts his body well to turn the ball around the post for a corner.
Yellow Card Andoni Iraola
You can't really blame the Athletic fans for being so inanimate. Their team has completely failed to turn up for the game so far. They need something, anything, to spark them into life.
Ash Sharma updates us on the atmoshpere in the Athletic end of the stadium: "Bilbao fans don't look real. The far side of the ground is so silent and so still they all look like they've been painted in. Perhaps still in shock"
Yellow Card Susaeta
First booking of the Copa del Rey final as Markel Susaeta goes in very late on Javier Mascherano just inside the Barca box. A fairly nasty tackle that earns him a yellow card.
Better defending from Ekiza this time to read the run of Alexis through the middle and eventually intercept the pass through from Xavi. The Chilean would have been through on goal if the defender wasn't switched on.
Athletic continue to stick to their principles and keep a high defensive line. This may not be the best course of action as Pedro, Messi, and Alexis have ran the back line ragged so far with their movement.
Barca doing what they do best now and coolly and calmy keeping hold of possession. This cannot be good for an already fatigued Athletic side, who have played upwards of 60 games this season.
Who would have predicted that this game may be over as little as 30 minutes in to the match. You really feel that Athletic need to get a goal before half time, otherwise it may be impossible to make any kind of impact in the second period.
Ash Sharma describes the atmosphere after the third goal: "This time its a total invasion of the bench by the players on the pitch as Pedro sinks his second of the game. But the best moment is a wonderful embrace between Guardiola and Tito Vilanova almost separate from the rest of the melee. Forget any talk of a rift amongst these two. They remain and will remain the closest of friends."
Penalty shout for Athletic! Llorente turns Gerard Pique in the box and goes down dramatically but the referee waves play on! Controversial moment in the match! The Barca defender did look to be holding Llorente's shirt.
GOOOOOAAAAAL for Barcelona!!! This is becoming a rout! Pedro finds space on the edge of the box to delightfully curl the ball into the far corner with a left-footed strike! Athletic are crumbling!
Ash Sharma gives us more of his expert analysis on the match. He predicted Barca would grab a second goal in his last update. Lets see what he has for us now: "Touchline madness!!! All the Barca subs leap out and start jumping up and down all over each other in a massive celebration at that wonder goal by Messi. But what a pass from Iniesta."
Athletic have not really turned up so far. The game is similar to the Europa League final against Atletico in which they never managed to get into gear. They will need to up the tempo soon as Barca are dominant in every department.
GOOOOOAAAAAL FOR BARCELONA!! They double their lead! Iniesta threads a pass through to Lionel Messi who drives forward and smahes a right-footed strike in to the roof of the net!
Ash Sharma gives us another update live from the match: "Guardiola throws his hands up and rocks his head back in exasperation after that wonderful save by Iraizoz. He sensed goal number two. But he may not have to wait too long!"
Superb link-up play from the Barcelona front line. Pedro jinks and turns outside the box before laying the ball off to Xavi. The Barca captain powers a shot at goal that just goes over the crossbar.
What a save from Iraizoz! The Athletic goalkeeper denies Lionel Messi with a stretched arm to stop a shot destined for the top corner!
The match has been played at a lightning tempo since the opening whistle and as a result a lot of space is being created in advanced areas. Who will be next to take advantage?
Ash Sharma gives us his latest update from inside the Vicente Calderon: "Marcelo Bielsa has been sat on his haunches in the Bilbao technical area looking worried ever since that goal went in. Guardiola has just ambled out into his area for the first time. Hands in pockets. He looks relaxed!"
Athletic are typically pressing the ball high up the pitch as they attempt to pounce on any mistakes by the Barca players. The Catalan side look calm and cool at the moment, however.
Excellent hold up play by Llorente to chest down the pass from Aurtenetxe and turn to face goal. However his pass to Susaeta on the right was misplaced and Barcelona gain a goal kick.
Pep Guardiola's men look incredibly up for this match. Perhaps the couple of weeks of rest has done them wonders as their passing has been sharp and incisive so far.
GOOOOAAAALLL!! Barca take an early lead!! Pedro latches on to a stray ball in the Athletic penalty area and lashes a strike past Iraizoz, who couldn't shift his body in time to make the save! 1-0!
Barcelona come flying out the blocks! They have nearly scored twice already! Messi went close with a strike and Pedro's left-footed shot was just cleared away by the Athletic defence!!
Ash Sharma gives us another update, this time focusing on the pre-match formalities: "No surprises. the short burst of the Spanish national anthem was greeted with huge boos and insults aimed at Esperance Aguirre the president of the Madrid government. Try stopping this game though!"
And we are off! The two most successful sides in the history of the Copa del Rey clash! Barcelona have won it 25 times, Athletic 23. Who will claim another title tonight?
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I will be reporting on the match this evening!
We are only a few moments from kick-off now, and the players have took to the park and lined up as the Spanish national anthem sounds out in the vibrant stadium.
As we prepare for kick-off, our man Ash Sharma has given us another update: "Vicente Calderon brimming to the rafters. Looking at it. i would say 60 40 in Bilbao's favour if not a little more. So 1-0 to Athletic so far."
Marcelo Bielsa's side will need to get over their recent slump against the Catalan side if they are they to get anything out of the match tonight. They have not won against Barcelona since May 2006.
OK folks, let's get some predictions on our Twitter before the match! Our Goal.com expert Karthick Arvinth predicted a 2-1 victory for Barcelona in his preview. Do we agree or disagree?
Our man at the Vicente Calderon Ash Sharma has given us an update of the atmosphere inside the stadium: "Ok this is it. The Catalan fans have gone mad. Flags and scarves being waved to madness as they gyrate left and right. Yep Lax'nBusto are on stage!!!!! Its a grungy rock sound and they are Catalunya's top band!!"
Be sure to stay here for play-by-play coverage of the match, it promises to be a cracker!
You can follow us on Twitter at @goal_intl so feel free to post your thoughts, feelings and predictions on the match. As always, I will post the best entries!
This is the starting XI that Pep Guardiola has chosen in his last game in charge: Pinto; Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Alexis and Messi.
The teams are in, an this is how Athletic Bilbao will be lining up tonight: Iraizoz; Iraola, Ekiza, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe; Javi Martínez, De Marcos, Muniain; Susaeta, Llorente, Ibai.
It is, ofcourse, the end of an era for Barcelona tonight. Pep Guardiola takes charge of his last match as head coach of the Catalan side, as he attempts to claim the trophy that was, fittingly, the first he won as boss.
This is sure to be an entertaining match as two of Spain's most flamboyant sides clash to try and be named Spanish Cup champions.
Good evening folks, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Copa del Rey final between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid.
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