Friday night Copa del Rey final has a friendly feel

The build-up to this season's Copa del Rey final has been curiously low key. This potentially stems from the lack of care and attention given to the competition by the Spanish FA (RFEF), who had to switch the encounter to a Friday night after a scheduling clash with the Eurovision Song Contest. No, seriously.

Looking on the bright side though, it's still an improvement on last season, when the showdown between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao took place just one day before Spain’s first pre-Euros warm-up match, on a pitch just four days old due to a Coldplay concert earlier the same week. 

La Liga Loca suspects the relegation of the Copa del Rey to lowly ‘Spanish Super Cup’ status is down to the simple truth that everyone knows that Real Madrid are going to win. Nearly 14 years of Atlético Madrid failure and 25 games without a Rojiblanco victory suggest that midfielder Tiago Mendes wasn’t joking when he gave his team a five percent chance of winning at the Santiago Bernabéu on Friday night. 

At least defender Diego Godín was a little more optimistic with his forecast. “The final is 50-50," he said, dutifully. "Of course, Real Madrid will start favourites, but before the game starts the chances are equal for everyone.” Yet, Arda Turan, whose hair is a marvel to behold at the moment, is so confident of a Real Madrid victory that he said he would cut his beautiful locks off should there be a surprise on the night.

This deep-seated lack of faith in Atlético’s ability to even turn up sees a distracted Madrid press looking back at previous finals between the two clubs and speaking to veterans. The last final involving the two teams was back in 1992, when Carter USM ruled supreme. It also took place at Real Madrid’s home, but saw a 2-0 victory for Atlético, with goals from Bernd Schuster and Paulo Futre.

Thursday’s edition of AS leads with a hint of a rumour that PSG are cheekily demanding Cristiano Ronaldo in place of coach Carlo Ancelotti. The day before, the paper was all with the bolshiness concerning a bonding team lunch for Real Madrid that took place without the coach. To be fair, that’s not an usual occurrence at a football club, but AS took it as a snub to the manager and plonked “Therapy Without Mou” on the front cover. Sadly, we are left without the image of coach and captain sat next to each other and Mourinho requesting someone “ask Casillas to pass the salt please. And to try not to drop it.”

Marca have lifted their game a little, with the revelation that Falcao and Ronaldo score lots of goals, but went off on a huge tangent on Wednesday by detailing what was admittedly a fun story of a wee kiddie footballer stopping a row between his coach and the referee during a youth team match.

Friday’s cup final is a clash between a Real Madrid side who need to win the cup to save face, and an Atlético Madrid side not expecting to be victorious, and far less fussed anyway now third place  has been secured in the league. This has left the showpiece occasion bereft of a little bit of attention, though the local police will not be too bothered about about that.

However, a Bernabéu stadium one third full of Madrid fans, one third full of Atlético Madrid supporters, and one third full of Spanish FA guests rattling their jewelry will still be a spectacle. What is needed is a contest, and that’s what Atlético Madrid have failed to deliver for nearly 15 years now. It’s time that awful record was put to bed.