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 SpainÃ¢ÂÂs 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 Ã¢ÂÂSpanish Super CupÃ¢ÂÂ status is down to the simple truth that everyone knows that Real Madrid are going to win. Nearly 14 years of AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid failure and 25 games without a Rojiblanco victory suggest that midfielder Tiago Mendes wasnÃ¢ÂÂt joking when he gave his team a five percent chance of winning at the Santiago BernabÃÂ©u on Friday night.
At least defender Diego GodÃÂn was a little more optimistic with his forecast. Ã¢ÂÂThe 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.Ã¢ÂÂ 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 AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs 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 MadridÃ¢ÂÂs home, but saw a 2-0 victory for AtlÃÂ©tico, with goals from Bernd Schuster and Paulo Futre.
ThursdayÃ¢ÂÂs 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, thatÃ¢ÂÂs not an usual occurrence at a football club, but AS took it as a snub to the manager and plonked Ã¢ÂÂTherapy Without MouÃ¢ÂÂ on the front cover. Sadly, we are left without the image of coach and captain sat next to each other and Mourinho requesting someone Ã¢ÂÂask Casillas to pass the salt please. And to try not to drop it.Ã¢ÂÂ
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.
FridayÃ¢ÂÂs cup final is a clash between a Real Madrid side who need to win the cup to save face, and an AtlÃÂ©tico 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 BernabÃÂ©u stadium one third full of Madrid fans, one third full of AtlÃÂ©tico 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 thatÃ¢ÂÂs what AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid have failed to deliver for nearly 15 years now. ItÃ¢ÂÂs time that awful record was put to bed.