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Talent against desire as Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao prepare for Copa del Rey final

IANS
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1.46K   //    29 May 2015, 19:33 IST
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Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao will play for the Copa del Rey on Saturday night

Barcelona, May 29 FC Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao go head-to-head for the third time in just six seasons when they play the King's Cup final in the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday night. Barcelona, who have already been crowned as La Liga champions, will be the clear favourites for the game and have been handed a massive advantage by the Spanish Football Federation's decision to play the match in their home ground, reports Xinhua.

The Catalans should be at full strength for the game, although there is a slight doubt over the fitness of striker Luis Suarez, who would be replaced by Pedro Rodriguez if he fails to recover in time.

The game is perhaps more special for Athletic, who have not won a title since they defeated Barcelona in the 1984 Cup final and it is 31 years since the club, which only uses players born or raised in the Basque region, last lifted some silverware.

They were beaten by Barcelona in the 2009 and 2012 Cup finals, and in that year also lost out in the Europa League to Atletico Madrid.

However, the club has won an impressive 24 cups in their history, a number only bettered by Barcelona and an estimated 70,000 fans, many without tickets are travelling to Barcelona for a match which they see as special.

That presents the prospect that Barcelona supporters are likely to find themselves outnumbered on their home turf, which could just be a factor to help produce a surprise.

Aritz Aduriz with 18 league goals this campaign will be Athletic's main threat in attack, but Barcelona will also have to be wary of the pace of Inaki Williams and Mikel San Jose's threat from set pieces.

If the Basques can produce a surprise, Barcelona will then see one of the biggest celebrations the city has ever witnessed.

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