Brilliance or buffoonery from Spanish FA over Copa del Rey clash?
La Liga Loca read somewhere that the then backwater, boiling, hellhole of Madrid was made capital of Spain as all those lobbying the King on behalf of other cities were united in thinking it was a truly terrible idea. It was actually a brilliant plan by His Majesty, who reasoned that if itÃ¢ÂÂs impossible to keep everyone happy, it's better to make sure everybody is equally miffed, especially if some of those people have private armies.
The blog likes to think that this was the strategy followed by the Spanish FA in choosing the date and the venue of the Copa del Rey final, but LLL knows it would be giving the group far too much credit. The declaration, made on Tuesday, that this yearÃ¢ÂÂs contest between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona would be hosted in AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs Vicente CalderÃÂ³n on Friday 25th May has managed to leave both clubs, their fans and Vicente Del Bosque all a little unhappy - but this was down to incompetence rather than some kind of cunning plan.
The most logical way to approach the Copa del Rey each year would be for the FA to have a look at the league and European fixture list over the summer and assign a date for the final - not unlike the approach taken for the other rounds. Instead, in recent seasons the FA have decided to cross their collective fingers, hope that the Champions League busy Real Madrid and Barcelona donÃ¢ÂÂt get through to the final so that their stadiums can be used for an easy-to-fix clash in April between two clear-scheduled sides, such as Mallorca and Levante.
But pesky Barcelona made it through, and with they and Athletic both having an awful lot of fans, the Santiago Bernabeu seemed the obvious choice for the clash. But despite both teams lobbying strongly for the fixture to take place on Real Madrid's patch, the request was denied. At this point, LLL should point out that Real Madrid are not refusing to allow their stadium to prevent BarÃÂ§a from potentially celebrate a title in it, but rather due to planned building works.
This is something Pep Guardiola apparently forgot in Tuesday's press conference ahead of their Champions League tie with Bayer Leverkusen. Ã¢ÂÂThe club didnÃ¢ÂÂt want the CalderÃÂ³n,Ã¢ÂÂ explained the BarÃÂ§a boss. "The club and Athletic wanted another venue. ItÃ¢ÂÂs our fault Athletic wonÃ¢ÂÂt get to go to the Bernabeu as if the rival in the final was not BarÃÂ§a, it would be being played there.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂBuilding works?Ã¢ÂÂ said Guardiola when nudged by the press pack, Ã¢ÂÂwell, if there are building works, there are building works,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Guardiola cheekily.
Athletic Bilbao were pushing for the Cartuja stadium in Seville - the venue for the 2003 UEFA Cup Final between Porto and Celtic - as it is a little bit bigger than the CalderÃÂ³n, but lost out in a vote at a Spanish FA meeting which BarÃÂ§a didnÃ¢ÂÂt attend in protest at the whole Gerard PiquÃÂ© business.
The date of the 25th May was chosen as it meant BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs potential participation in the Champions League final six days before wasntÃ¢ÂÂt relevant. The problem is that the Copa del Rey final now takes place the day before Spain are scheduled to play their first Euro 2012 warm-up match, leaving Del Bosque without all of his Barcelona and Athletic contingent for the match itself and the training sessions before hand.
All-in-all, it was a tough decision that had to be made, but a mess that could have been completely avoided had the FA perhaps acted a little sooner. Like last summer.