FC Barcelona is on course to complete a glorious treble as they won their 27th Copa Del Rey crown against a formidable Athletic side. Luis Enrique has turned the tables in his debut season as he seals a domestic double with a comfortable win at Camp Nou.
From Messi’s brilliance to Bilbao’s tenacity, here are the five talking points from this exciting match.
5. MSN continues to run riot
There have been very few troikas in world football that have been as lethal and prolific as the current Barca trio. The magical trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar has blown away every single defence which they’ve faced since the turn of the year.
It’s not only nearly impossible to stop them but very difficult to contain them. Such has been their on-field chemistry that they are reminiscent of the golden Dutch trio of Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Guillit and Marco van Basten and Barca’s very own legendary trio of Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.
They are banging goals left, right and centre as their tally for the season stands at a staggering 120 goals. They broke the previous record set by Real Madrid’s trio of Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuain. But what sets them apart from the Los Blancos trio is the overall contribution from each member of the trio, also consodering the number of games Luis Suarez missed due to the ban. All three of them have made telling contributions as Barca became more and more rampant with each passing game in the season.
4. Athletic never really stood a chance
Bilbao entered into the finals in Camp Nou as rank underdogs. Such was Barca’s domination in the final that even the underdog’s tag seemed an inflated estimation of their chance to win the final. The Catalans blew away their visitors in the first half itself with a perfect blend of individual brilliance and team effort as they roared to a 2-0 lead.
Los Leones did try to claw their way back into the final with a tenacious second half display, but that just wasn’t good enough to upset the Barca juggernaut. Although they did claw one back through Inaki Williams, the game was already beyond their reach by then.
To say that the Basques were poor on the night wouldn’t be a fair testament to their grit and fight. They were just up against opponents who were far superior to them and made them looked pedestrian. With such a young and gifted squad at the helm, things are surely looking bright at San Mames despite tonight’s excruciating defeat.
3. Legends bid adieu
This Copa Del Rey final saw the end of two great eras for both the finalist teams. Xavi Hernandez and Andoni Iraola both played the last round of domestic games for their respective boyhood clubs. Both of them are icons for their respective clubs and both of them are moving to different avenues in search of new challenges. While one ended his career with heartbreak, the other is heading towards a fairytale ending to his story.
Iraola has been a mainstay in the Bilbao squad for almost 12 years and has been with Bilbao through good and bad times. Tonight he had the chance to win his first piece of silverware with the Basque club but his jinxed run of finals continued as Bilbao ended the match with a defeat. The Basque legend will be moving to MLS next season.
If Barca wins a treble, then Xavi would join an elite group of players to do a treble twice in their career while being with a single club. This was his last game at Camp Nou and he surely will leave Catalonia on a very bright and joyous note.