In Wednesday’s Copa del Rey match, Barcelona found Athletic Club to be the devil once more. Los Leones may not have had the best results against the Blaugrana in championship games, but they are formidable in the Copa del Rey and created history with their thrilling 4-2 victory in overtime.
Barcelona has only lost the Copa del Rey four times in the eighteen years since it began, all before the semi-final stage. Only Athletic (2009–10) and Sevilla (2009–10) have accomplished this, as noted by MD; the Basque team did so in 2019–20, 2020–21, and 2023–24.
That streak is really remarkable, but Athletic has also made it to the semifinals five times in a row—a first in the previous ninety years. Their Copa reputation has also been shaped by three different managers: Gaizka Garitano, Marcelino Garcia Toral, and current manager Ernesto Valverde.
Naturally, Los Leones’ next task is to proceed and win it—something they haven’t done since 1984. Despite having made six Copa finals since then, Athletic is eager to break their 40-year trophy drought, even if they won the Spanish Supercup in 2015 and 2021. It’s their best opportunity ever, as the only remaining team from the big three is Atletico Madrid.