Williams protects the ball in a derby against Real.
Is it fear, is it restlessness? The week of passion for Athletic and Real Sociedad can be summed up in both feelings. Fans on both sides of the AP-8 are torn between hope for victory and dread of defeat. It is a final, anything can happen, and it is precisely that variable that sows an uncertainty that, possibly, would not arise if the rival were not the noisy neighbor, the one with the festive and peaceful but fiery derbies, which serve to fuel the fire. of the illusion according to which side they choose.
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The two teams are already watching weapons. La Real traveled the day before and Athletic did so on Thursday at noon, amid the somewhat reckless farewell of the thousands of people who flocked to the gutters of the road that connects Lezama with Loiu airport. Almost 300 motorcycle followed the buses to the terminal gates. The expedition included Aritz Aduriz, who served as a talisman in the Super Cup played on the same stage. Entire Bizkaia is flooded with red and white flags; The same happens in San Sebastián and many towns in Gipuzkoa. Illusion and restlessness in equal parts in a clash (21.00, Telecinco) that is presumed even, as are all derbies, and in which both Imanol and Marcelino will be able to count, in principle, with their best tricks. It is almost a psychological question. The injured reduce return periods, the non-habitual knock on the door.
It is true that, at Real Sociedad, Merino is among cottons, that Silva returns after being unemployed, like Zaldua or Elustondo; that Zubimendi suffered a blow in the first match of the U21s a week ago, or that Oyarzabal, Isak, Januzaj and Barrenetxea have gone many days without training with their teammates due to calls from the coaches. But also Athletic, although they have the rest available, observed how Luis Enrique kept Unai Simón and Iñigo Martínez on the field for 90 minutes against Kosovo, four days before the match. "I don't care about the final at all," was the coach's comment, who did agree on other record matters. Both slept at dawn on Thursday in Seville and waited for their teammates to arrive at the concentration hotel, to face the two previous training sessions together.
It will be a clash of styles, or maybe not. La Real gave up theirs in the last San Mamés derby and won by equipping themselves in their field after scoring early. He did it with commendable solvency, without haste. Marcelino announces that he will not get out of his usual 4-4-2 scheme no matter how important the game is. In any case, in front of the solid defense that is announced in Bilbao, the usual spark of the Donostia offensive line will oppose itself, although in a final the virtues and qualities of one and the other are mixed. In the pools on a possible result, it is noted the greater experience of Bilbao, who since 2009 have played three Cup finals and one European, in addition to several Super Cups, but Real Sociedad has players like Silva or Monreal, who have a record of great battles.
After a centuries-old history, Athletic, who will play as a local by seniority, and Real Sociedad meet for the first time in a Cup final, of course the Bilbaoans will celebrate their fortieth match of the Championship of Spain and the Donostiarras only played six finals. The four that lost, all against Barcelona. However, both teams have played 18 matches between them, with a favorable balance for the rojiblancos in seven of the nine qualifying rounds they played. The last time they met, Real won on penalties in San Mamés, reached the final (1987) and won it, also on penalties, against Atlético de Madrid. In the previous one, Athletic qualified in the final round in Atocha, they also reached the final and beat Barcelona (1-0) in 1984. This Saturday will be the first Basque final of the Copa del Rey in the last 94 years, since Real Unión beat Arenas de Getxo 1-0 in 1927, at the Torrero stadium in Zaragoza.
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