The Copa del Rey final between Real Madrid and Barcelona on Wednesday will be the seventh time the two teams have contested the trophy. And indeed it will be a tiebreaker, as the overall score is 3-3 from their previous six finals.
The last time these two teams met at this stage was actually at the same venue, the Mestalla, in 2011. A Cristiano Ronaldo header in extra time gave Los Blancos a 1-0 over their fierce rivals, and handed Jose Mourinho a piece of silverware in his first season as boss of the nine-time European Cup winners.
But you have to go all the way back to 1936 to find the first time Real Madrid and Barcelona played each other in the final. The game, which took place just under a month before CIvil War broke out in Spain, has gone down in history due to the superb performance of Real goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora – the man whose name is given to the annual trophy awarded to the best shot-stopper in La Liga. A former Barcelona player, Zamora made a stunning save in the last minute from Josep Escola, and Los Blancos returned to the capital with the then-called Copa de La Republica.
Los Cules would have to wait 32 years to get revenge for that defeat, but when it came in 1968, it was particularly satisfying for all those connected to the club. Played at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Catalans won 1-0 thanks to an own goal by Fernando Zunzunegui. Madridista fans had to watch on as the Copa Generalismo, as it was known then, was handed to them by the Spanish dictator General Franco, who had done so much to suppress the culture, arts, language and lifestyle of the Catalan people.
In 1974 the two teams met again in the Spanish capital, this time at the Vicente Calderon. Los Blancos were out for revenge having been humiliated 5-0 at home in La Liga in a Johann Cruyff inspired Barcelona. The Dutchman was not allowed to play in the final of the Copa though as foreigners were banned. Hugo Sotil was also missing for the Azulgrana, while Los Blancos were without influential German Gunter Netzer and Argentine Oscar Mas. Their loss was not felt though, as Madrid won 4-0.
Nine years later, and we had another Clasico final, this time in Zaragoza. Diego Maradona was the star of the Catalan side, and he was targeted by Los Blancos. Jose Antonio Camacho and Paco Bonet put in some fairly crunching tackles on the diminutive Argentinian, but Barcelona didn’t let it get to them. Victor Munoz put Barcelona ahead, and although Santillana leveled for Madrid, Marcos Alonso headed home to ensure the trophy went back to the Camp Nou. It was a disappointing season for Madrid who ended up second in every competition they played – La Liga, Copa, Copa de La Liga, Cup Winners’ Cup and the Spanish Supercopa.
In 1990 the teams met for a fifth time in the Copa del Rey final, with Barcelon edging a tght affair. Fernando Hierro was sent off in the first half for Madrid, and Los Cules went on to score two second half goals through Guillermo Amor and Julio Salinas. Some say tha match saved Johann Cruyff’s managerial career at the Camp Now, as he was under increasing pressure to win a trophy. Shortly afterwards, the Dream Team was born.
The teams had to wait another 21 years for a Copa del Rey final reunion, and Ronaldo was the difference between the teams. Leo Messi cried in the dressing room afterwards, but Barcelona would get revenge shortly afterwards by knocking Los Blancos out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage.