With a league so unerringly dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid, although Atletico Madrid could become the first La Liga winner other than the El Clasico rivals since 2004 in the coming weeks, this cup competition has provided something of a giant slaying ground in recent years, with the supposedly smaller teams desperately putting all of their trophy hopes into it. Therefore Barcelona and Real Madrid only have three Copa wins between them in the last 14 years.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Barcelona lead the way with 26 Copa del Rey wins, more shocking is that in second place is Athletic Bilbao with 23 Copa wins, despite not winning this competition for thirty years. Madrid are some way behind in third with 18 wins, but tonight presents itself a chance for Los Blancos to catch up on their Catalan rivals.
You would expect an El Clasico final to be commonplace, but tonight will be only the second time these two have met in the final since 1990. In fact, this will only be the seventh time in the competition's history that the two have met in the final, with the "score" being tied at 3-3 between the two. So, Valencia's Mestalla stadium will hold a "series breaker" with both teams desperately trying to get their hands on their first respective pieces of silverware in 2014.
With Barcelona out of the Champions League and their shock loss to Granada putting them four points off the pace in La Liga in what has been a very poor season for the Spanish Champions by their standards, the Copa del Rey could well prove to be their only shot at silverware left.
They managed to do the double over Real this season, which will give Real yet another incentive to put those disappointments behind them and snatch silverware from their rivals. Both teams are still in the hunt for the double, with Real Madrid still in with a chance of winning the treble, and this El Clasico will be as hotly contested as any other.
In present news, Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of the contest. Carlo Ancelotti said: "Cristiano is not available because we don't want to take risks and we have other very important games to come this season,
"We are going to lose a player with an incredible quality, but his absence has provided motivation for the team to run more and play more as a team."
Not only that, it will surely provide an opportunity for world record summer signing Gareth Bale to prove how much of those €100million he was worth. In the last Clasico, played at the end of March, Angel di Maria and Karim Benzema starred more than Bale and Ronaldo, but Lionel Messi stole the show with a hat-trick.
This season has been very difficult for Barcelona. Not only are the Champions now third in La Liga, they went out of the Champions League to leaders Atletico Madrid, the first time they have not made the semi-finals of the competition in seven years. Not only that, but FIFA hit them with a transfer ban and, to make matters worse, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Marc Bartra are all doubts for tonight's final.
Andres Iniesta said: "We would all like to live in a world of roses where everything is wonderful, but reality is not like that.
"This is a title, it is something for the fans and us to cheer."
Real Madrid will also miss Marcelo but Sergio Ramos has returned from a neck injury.
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