Copa del Rey: Imanol Alguacil calls on Real Sociedad to make history in all-Basque final

La Real will face bitter rivals Bilbao on Saturday in the postponed final from last season, which has been put off as long as possible in the hope that fans could attend.

Agence France-Presse April 03, 2021 09:00:28 IST
Copa del Rey: Imanol Alguacil calls on Real Sociedad to make history in all-Basque final

Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil urged his players to go for history in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao. AFP

Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil urged his players on Friday to make history by beating Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey.

La Real will face bitter rivals Bilbao on Saturday in the postponed final from last season, which has been put off as long as possible in the hope that fans could attend.

As a result it will be the first of two cup finals in two weeks, with Bilbao then facing Barcelona on April 17 in the final of this year's competition.

Both will be played without supporters, in the empty stadium of La Cartuja in Seville.

Real Sociedad have only twice won the Copa del Rey in their history and this is the club's first final since 1988.

"I think what we have achieved is already incredible but we want to make history for this great club," said Alguacil at a press conference on Friday.

"That means winning tomorrow, let's see if we can do it."

Real Sociedad are enjoying the better season in LaLiga, sitting fifth in table, 10 points ahead of Bilbao.

But Bilbao have surged since the appointment of Marcelino Garcia Toral as coach, with Marcelino beginning his tenure by winning the Spanish Super Cup in January.

They beat Real Madrid and then Barcelona, also at La Cartuja, in the final.

"When we got here at La Cartuja, the first memory that comes to mind is the great moment of happiness that we had in this stadium less than three months ago," said Marcelino. "At the same time, we have to realise it's in the past and focus our attention on having more success tomorrow."

There were suggestions in the Spanish press last month some fans would be able to attend the match in Seville.

But Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias insisted it was "not appropriate" given rising infection rates of COVID-19 in several regions of the country.

"It's a shame, all this time we have been waiting for them to be here, to enjoy themselves and in the end it will not be possible," said Real Sociedad captain Asier Illarramendi at the same press conference.

Bilbao have won the competition 23 times, second only to Barcelona's 30. Their last triumph was in 1984.

"One dream when they put on the shirt for the first time was to play in the first team and the other was to play in a final," Marcelino said. "They have to enjoy it."

"It is a long-awaited final, a dream final. We have not been able to play a final for 34 years and we are going to fight to the death for the trophy," added Alguacil.

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