When the second chapter in FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF's current four-match saga unfolds on Wednesday, it will also be the sixth Copa del Rey final between the sides.
Sandwiched between Saturday's 1-1 Liga draw at the Santiago Bernabéu and the clubs' UEFA Champions League semi-final duel on 27 April and 3 May, Real Madrid and Barcelona will line up at Valencia's Mestalla eager to add another Copa del Rey to their impressive list of triumphs in the tournament.
Barcelona lead the way as competition specialists with 25 titles, having last lifted the trophy in 2009 when they beat Athletic Club before adding the UEFA Champions League and Liga crowns. Meanwhile, Madrid's most recent Copa success – their 17th – came in 1993, a statistic captain Iker Casillas wants to address.
"This is a very important trophy and a team like Real Madrid cannot afford to let so many years pass without lifting it," the goalkeeper said. "From a personal point of view I've never won the Copa del Rey in eleven years here so if Madrid succeed, the trophy takes on even more importance."
The Spanish giants have met 28 times in the cup, with Barcelona having the better of things. Not only have they prevailed on 14 occasions to the Merengues's nine; they also hold a 3-2 advantage in finals between the sides. "A final is always a different game to the rest," said Barça captain Carles Puyol. "The goal now is to come out on top against our main rivals."
UEFA.com reviews those previous Copa del Rey final encounters:
5 April 1990: Barcelona 2-0 Madrid – Mestalla
Despite pulling off several stunning saves to stop Johan Cruyff's Barcelona taking the lead, Paco Buyo could only parry Ronald Koeman's 78th-minute drive into the path of Aitor 'Txiki' Begiristain whose cross was headed in by Guillermo Amor. Julio Salinas made it 2-0 in added time against a Madrid side that finished with ten men after Fernando Hierro was sent off.
4 June 1983: Barcelona 2-1 Madrid – La Romareda
Víctor Muñoz blasted Barça into a 24th-minute lead after connecting with Diego Maradona's slick lay-off. But there was horror on Barcelona faces five minutes after the restart when Gerardo's error allowed Carlos Santillana to score the simplest of equalisers. Maradona then had a goal ruled out before Marcos Alonso nodded in Julio Alberto's cross in the dying moments to clinch victory for the Blaugrana.
29 June 1974: Madrid 4-0 Barcelona – Vicente Calderón
Madrid had suffered a torturous 5-0 home defeat by Barcelona four months before this Copa del Rey showdown. Without Cruyff, due to the competition's ban on foreign players, there was little Barça could do about Madrid exacting revenge. Santillana and Benito Rubiñan had the men in white 2-0 up before Aguilar's cool finish and Pirri's late goal completed the rout.
11 June 1968: Barcelona 1-0 Madrid – Santiago Bernabéu
Despite enjoying home advantage, Madrid failed to prevent a Barcelona team featuring club great Carles Rexach from leaving the Spanish capital with the spoils. After just six minutes of play, Madrid's Fernando Zunzunegui hacked at a Joaquim Rifé cross and watched in horror as the ball flew past goalkeeper Antonio Betancort for the only goal.
21 June 1936: Madrid 2-1 Barcelona – Mestalla
With huge demand to see the first final between the clubs, it was said that Mestalla could have been filled three times over. Goals from Eugenio and Simón Lecue put Madrid in command inside 15 minutes and although Josep Escolá reduced the arrears, the match would forever be remembered for Ricardo Zamora's spectacular late save from Escolá .
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