If you didn’t already know, the Copa del Ray is ‘King’s Cup’ translated from the Spanish. The full name of the contest is Campeonato de Espana Copa de Su Majestad el Rey… and that’s why they just call it Copa del Ray! Held since 1903, it’s an annual soccer competition for clubs only in Spain.
And just so you know, Barcelona has won the cup 26 times and finished as runners-up 11 times.
Real Madrid looked the stronger team in the first half, dominating play throughout but, aside from Angel Di Maria scoring in the 11th minute, never seemed able to capitalize on their strong attack strategies. They also seemed slow to react in defense – but that changed in the second half.
However, being one goal up seemed to put the game into stalemate, Real Madrid unable to score again, but putting up such a strong defense so Barcelona could never get through to score.
Everything changed in the 22nd minute of the second half when one of the Barcelona defenders, Marc Barta – who everyone thought would miss the game through injury – headed in a corner kick and the Real Madrid goalkeeper, Iker Casilla, let in his first goal in the entire competition.
The game even, it was like everyone snapped back to attention and the final 20 minutes of the game produced some of the most exciting soccer we’ve seen from these two teams this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to play on the Real Madrid side due to injury, but in the last few minutes of the game, it was like he was there in spirit. There couldn’t have been a person in the stadium who didn’t remember Ronaldo snatching the title from Barcelona in the last minutes of the final back in 2011. And this time, it was all down to Welshman, Gareth Bale.
With just five minutes left in regulation time, Bale got the ball on the left-hand side of the field just inside the Madrid half. Running down the left wing, he literally outran the defender, took the ball into the penalty area and knocked the ball under the Jose Pinto, the Barca goalkeeper.
The Barcelona manager, Gerardo Martino, had this to say about Bale’s amazing run, “It is difficult to see a player be able to sprint like that at that stage of the game.”