Thursday, April 15

Athletic-Real Sociedad, the final of Basque pride


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The Okela Bar, which is really a restaurant to suck the boots, proudly waves the red and white colors twenty-four hours before the final. Located four hundred meters from San Mamés, it is also the headquarters of the Joseba Etxeberría club, currently coach of Bilbao Athletic. Many followers of the lions have been meeting there for decades, while Txema Olano controls that the food is insurmountable against the backlash. A hundred kilometers from there, the gastronomic society Unión Artesana, the oldest in San Sebastián, founded in 1870, sports the blue and white flags on its walls in the desire to see the Royal Society champion of the Copa del Rey against the rojiblanco neighbor, in a soccer, picaresque, countrymen duel , which will leave the middle very touched after experiencing this first great final in history between the two main Basque clubs.

López Ufarte: «On December 31 we gave them a soccer bath in San Mamés. The Royal Society plays to dominate, to command and if it goes well it is very difficult to win it. We will win 3-2 »

The Okela and the Unión Artesana are two examples of the thousands and thousands of restaurants, bars, shopping centers, businesses, markets, walls, balconies, cars and shops in Bilbao and San Sebastián that have been dressed in the red and white and blue and white colors for days. The Bilbao City Council has in front of a giant shirt that bears the number twelve and the name of Bilbao. In San Sebastián, the emblematic buildings are dressed from the first to the eighth floor with the white and blue flag. The atmosphere in both cities is as festive as it is worrying. Many fear defeat, because supporting the friend of the other side for months, years, will exhaust more than marking Raúl García.

Andoni Goicoechea: «Marcelino will raise the pressure to keep Real from playing and in attack he will seek the back of the rival defense with balls to Williams. We will win 2-1 »

The farewell Massive offered to the Athletic bus Due to the swollen lions, on the way to the airport and the flight to Seville, he broke all the security measures against the coronavirus. The absence of an audience at the La Cartuja stadium and the impossibility of watching the game with supporters and friends is unbearable for too many fans, who break the protocols because of passion. It was the last episode that fuels the concern of the Basque Government to avoid crowds and parties once the final is over.

The authorities They have warned that they will not be more permissive tomorrow in Vizcaya and in Guipúzcoa. They advise watching the game at home and celebrating it in private at home, without going outside. They know that it will be impossible to control everyone, but they warn. “Lives are at stake.”

Opposing styles

Life is played by both teams. It is a terroir final that will make history and mark a turning point for both clubs. This end of the Spanish Cup will be remembered for eternity for being the first between both sets. The empty stands will provide a strange piece of information for the future that will be remembered by the Covid. It will be the first Cup of the virus, after living the League of the pandemic, won by Real Madrid.

They face two very different styles. One, Athletic de Marcelino, defined by his ambition to win. Lions always score at least one goal. It is a vertical, direct team, directed on the grass by Muniaín, who seeks the opponent’s weak points in a guerrilla war that wears out the enemy, with Williams as the destroyer in the opposite area and Raúl García in all the stews. The other style, the Real Sociedad de Imanol, is defined by the dominance of the game, by having the ball, supported by the class of David Silva and Oyarzábal, with Isak as dagger. An attack idea that is beautiful and that risks in defense, capable of the best and the worst, of everything.

ABC has spoken with two myths from both football cultures, Roberto López Ufarte and Andoni Goicoechea, to analyze a duel that transcends sports. It is a confrontation of pride, of the village, of ways of being Basque, of who is better and more Basque, who surpasses football.

«We gave them a bath on December 31 in their field “, recalls López Ufarte, fine blue and white extreme left from 1975 to 1987, transferred to Atlético that year. «In San Mamés we win with our football, with the control of the ball. La Real plays to command in the game and when it comes out it is difficult to win it. David Silva is very important to us, because he puts a taste for football. Oyarzábal brings more quality. And up we have Isak, who decides with his speed and auction.

López Ufarte: «There is a lot of chop»

Analytical, Roberto López Ufarte knows the opponent and underlines his virtues, which must be annulled: «Athletic is led by Muniaín. You have to be careful with Williams’ speed in attack. And close to him will be Raul Garcia, which will be very important to them because of their experience ». He admits that losing will be very hard: “There is a lot of it between the two hobbies, we are neighbors and whoever loses will have a bad time.” It has a result: “We won 3-2.”

“We are going to win 2-1”, answers Goicoechea. He acknowledges that the defeated, in fact, will not live very well in the near future: «It is the first final between Athletic and Real Sociedad and there is a very great rivalry, like that of Real Madrid and Atlético, like Betis-Sevilla, Barcelona-Espanyol, and whoever loses is going to have to put up with their neighbor, who lives next door, for too long.

Andoni breaks down how Marcelino will propose the final: «Athletic will press up to not let Real play, which has a good midfield, with quality men like Silva and Oyarzábal, and Isak on point. Marcelino will impose a good defensive system and will try to overcome Real with speed, I seekco in Williams with balls thrown at the back of the opposing defense.

López Ufarte’s rival as Athletic center-back in the same twelve years, from 1975 to 1987, teammates at Atlético de Madrid the following season, Goicoechea admits that it is an atypical final: «I feel the sadness of not being able to live this game with the public, with both fans on the field. It would have been very nice, special. The final was delayed for a year to achieve it, but it could not be ».

Goicoechea: take out the barge later

The former defender of the lions also regrets not being able to take out the barge if his team wins, as happened in 1983 with the League title and the following year with the League and the Cup, from the hand of Clemente: “If we win, let’s see if we get the barge out later, when possible.” In his head he feels an illusion: to win two Cups in two weeks, against Real Sociedad and Barcelona. “First we are going to fight for this one and then we will think about the other, that Barcelona is a great rival.”

Tomorrow, Bilbao and San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa and Vizcaya, will be paralyzed at night to witness a unique confrontation, with silence in the stands of La Cartuja and hearts sinking in the houses of the supporters, with Seville without fans in an empty field, without noise. The cries of the players will be heard in a final of the Copa del Rey for the first time in history. It is a duel between two characters, between Marcelino and Imanol, between the marmitako and the hake to the skewer. Comparisons say it all. The two fish embroider them in both cities. They both deserve to win. Only one can and It will not be necessary to prime with the neighbor, because they are different but very similar.

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