Copa del Rey

"It's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of two players," says Andoni Zubizarreta. "The Copa del Rey final alone is very important; Now, with those fans, imagine the flags, the noise, the stadium itself, the families, and the journey to be made; All this together becomes the final, not just those 90 minutes on the ground. And now we have to come to terms with the fact that there will be no such thing this year. The players go to the hotel, stay there, and then play in an empty stadium. "So in such a situation it is very difficult to predict the game." 

Zubizarreta, who himself scored in the five Copa del Rey finals - and won three of them - understands this well. He was part of the team that won Bilbao's last championship in the 1983-84 season. He then won, and as Zubizarreta and his teammates crossed the Nervion River in a boat, two million fans gathered around the river to cheer them on.

When Athletic Bilbao and their compatriot Real Sociedad reached the Copa del Rey final in the 2019-2020 season, similar scenes came to the minds of fans of both teams. They immediately prepared to buy tickets for the first final between the two teams after more than a hundred years of competition. Just a few days later, all football was shut down due to the Corona pandemic. Suddenly all that enthusiasm subsided. Finally, it was revealed that the final of last season's Copa del Rey, after a long wait, will be held on Sunday, April 3, 2021 (April 15) at the Stadio de la Cartoha in Seville, behind closed doors. 

The fact that this game is going to be played behind closed doors is really sad, especially when we imagine how special and heartwarming the fraternal competition between the fans of teams from Bilbao and San Sebastian could be. "Alberto Goriz, a member of the last Sociedad team to win the Copa del Rey in 1987, says: 

 I would like to see how the final of these two teams went in Seville, with the blue and white fans standing next to the red and white fans; I wanted to see them go to the gym together and even sit together. In this case, each of them would cheer for their own team, and although winning the derby is very important for both sides, and this can create tense moments, but the competition between these competitive fans It is healthy. It would be great if we could show this to other people because we know we don't see many such scenes elsewhere. There are other important derbies, but none of them is like the derby between La Real and Athletic.
The roots of this special relationship go back to the time when football entered the Basque Country. Athletic was founded in 1898 by Bilbao-born engineering students studying in England. Real Sociedad San Sebastian (Royal Football Association) also started in 1909 with the efforts of the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII. 

Zubizarreta says players have always known that they represent two cities with unique characteristics. Playing for his hometown team Alavés, he joined Athletics in 1981 at the age of 18. 

 Bilbao has always been more English and this can be understood from its name. San Sebastian is closer to the border with France and is a more glamorous and luxurious city. Bilbao is more of a gloomy industrial city with its large sidewalks. Athletics emerged from within such an atmosphere. 
The competition between the two teams was sensitive from the beginning. At the 1911 Copa del Rey, Sociedad claimed that Athletic had used two unauthorized English players, and when Athletic was allowed to advance to the next round, they withdrew from the competition and eventually won the Bilbao title. However, when it comes to strangers, these neighbors shake hands. The most famous of these dates back to the 1976 derby; When the captains of the two teams, Jose Angel Eribar (Athletic) and Inacio Cortabaria, entered the pitch holding the green, white and red Basque flag, at a time when the Spanish central government in Madrid had banned the use of this flag .