Athletic Club 0-4 Barcelona: result, goals, summary - Copa del Rey final 2021
Athletic Club 0-4 Barcelona: Copa del Rey final as it happened
Barcelona have cemented their status as the Copa del Rey's most decorated club with tonight's victory over Athletic Club.
The moment Messi and Busquets lifted the Copa
Here, courtesy of Barcelona's social-media team, is the moment that Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets lifted the Copa del Rey together:
Piqué: "This is just the beginning!"
Gerard Piqué has tweeted that Barcelona’s Copa del Rey win is "just the beginning".
"This is not over, this is just the beginning!" the Barcelona defender said. "Congratulations Culers! Long live Barça and long live Catalonia! Cup winners!!!!!"
The Barcelona players pose with the Copa del Rey trophy following their 4-0 win over Athletic Club tonight.
(Photo: EFE/ Julio Muñoz)
Dani García: “We apologise to the fans”
Athletic Club midfielder Dani García has said sorry to the club’s fans in the wake of Los Leones’ second Copa del Rey final defeat this month, telling reporters: “We apologise to the fans because these have been two big blows. Now we’ll try to make sure we finish the season as well as possible. We have to keep working hard for this badge.”
Barcelona captain Lionel Messi speaks:
“A special trophy”:
“I’m really happy to have won this trophy. The Copa del Rey has been really tough for us this season. It’s always special to lift a trophy. It’s a happy day, this group deserved this moment of joy. It’s special being captain of this club, of this team. It’s a special trophy to get your hands on.”
“We knew that Athletic always play the same way. We showed patience with the ball.
Eager to add LaLiga title to the Copa:
“I’m sure the fans at home will be happy. It’s been a difficult year. Now we have to keep on fighting for the league title. It’s been an unusual year, one of transition. We found it hard to get going, we dropped points through naivety. We’ve got ourselves into the race now, though, and there are still a number of games to go. We have to give it everything we have right to the end.”
Messi hits 30 for 13th year on the trot
As well as overtaking Telmo Zarra’s Copa del Rey final goals record, Lionel Messi has tonight brought up 30 Barcelona goals in all competitions for the 13th season in a row.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman speaks:
“We deserved it. We found it very hard to get to the final and I think the team played very well from start to finish. We were the better side.”
Pleased with the football Barcelona played:
“We found it difficult to make the breakthrough […], but after the first goal, we managed to kill off the game with some really good football.”
Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong:
“Messi has been showing for so many years that he’s the best in the world. You have to highlight Frenkie de Jong, too - his contribution was very important. But in general you have to highlight the performance of the whole team.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta speaks:
Pleased for the Barça players:
“I feel really happy for these players, who needed this; it’d been a little while since we won a trophy.”
Lionel Messi future:
“We’re going to do everything we can to get Leo to stay.”
“Ronald is doing very well, working with real dedication, and you can see the players appreciate what he’s doing. Today is a day to congratulate all the players and the coaching staff.”
Messi, Busquets and Piqué equal Copa record
Leo Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué have now won seven Copas del Rey each, joining Athletic Club’s José María Belauste and 'Piru' Gaínza as the competition's most decorated players.
Messi lifts the Copa del Rey
Messi collects the Copa del Rey from King Felipe at the Estadio de la Cartuja:
Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann speaks:
“Proud of the team”:
“I’m proud of the team and the work we put in. We found the going tough in the Copa del Rey this year, so we’re going to enjoy it.”
“It’s a long season and there are good moments and bad moments, and you have to keep on going, stay mentally strong […]. This is our reward.”
Lionel Messi future:
“I think he’s happy here, we’ll see what happens. It’s not in our hands.”
Does this Copa win strengthen Ronald Koeman’s position as head coach?
“Ask the president!”
Messi named man of the match
Lionel Messi, who is now the highest scorer of all time in Copa del Rey finals, is named the man of the match tonight.
Athletic Club defender Mikel Balenziaga speaks:
“It’s a very tough moment for us; we were excited to play this game and were raring to go, but Barcelona were the better side. They dominated us.”
Defeat “really hurts”:
"They were better than us and it really hurts. We just have to keep on going. It’s a tough moment, but we’ll pick ourselves up."
Peeep peep peeeep! Barcelona have thumped Athletic Club and have won the Copa del Rey for a record 31st time. Ronald Koeman's men were dominant from start to finish and thoroughly deserve their win.
It's hard to even begin to imagine the depth of disappointment that Athletic must be feeling right now.
Barcelona almost get Braithwaite in on Simón, but the Dane's control lets him down as he attempts to pull a high ball down in the box, and the chance is lost.
Two minutes of time added on at the Estadio de la Cartuja.
Yuri is booked for an offence that I confess I missed.
That's Griezmann's last involvement. He and Óscar Mingueza are taken off, with Ousmane Dembélé and Martin Braithwaite coming on.
Griezmann has it in the net for what he thinks is Barcelona's fifth, but it's ruled out after a VAR check. Having been played in on Simón by Messi's slide-rule ball, the Frenchman rounded the goalkeeper and slotted into the empty net, but he was just offside.
There's a chance for Raúl García... but he heads into the ground and over! He had a free header from a right-wing corner, but got his effort all wrong. He's more than a little cheesed off with himself.
Barcelona make another change, replacing Piqué with Ronald Araújo.
Piqué and Koeman engage in a session of vigorous back-slapping as the defender makes his way to the Barça bench.
Íñigo Martínez fires a free-kick into the Barcelona wall from 25 yards or so out. You have to feel for Athletic; missing out on the Copa del Rey twice in the space of 15 days, one of them to your local rivals... well, that's uncharted territory when it comes to cup-final disappointment.
Barcelona bring on Sergi Roberto in place of Sergiño Dest.
4-0! Messi overtakes Zarra!
Receiving the ball on the left wing, Alba rolls it back into the box to meet the run of Messi, who strokes it first-time past Simón and into the near corner.
That's now a record nine goals in Copa del Rey finals for the Argentine.
Messi equals Zarra record
That Lionel Messi strike is his eighth career Copa del Rey final goal, meaning the Barcelona star has drawn level with the legendary Telmo Zarra as the player with the most Copa final goals ever.
Messi scores a sumptuous solo goal! Game over!
The Argentine plays a one-two-three-four with De Jong, before advancing into the right-hand side of the box, cutting inside Unai Núñez and rolling a nonchalant finish past Simón and into the far corner, easy as you like. Marvellous goal.
Athletic make a triple substitution, replacing Yeray Álvarez, Unai López and Iñaki Williams with Yuri Berchiche, Asier Villalibre and Unai Núñez.
Can Athletic respond? They're going to have to do rather more in attack than they have in the 65 minutes or so we've had so far.
Williams plays it back to Vesga to shoot from 20 yards, but the substitute blazes high and wide.
And now it's 2-0!
Alba crosses from the left, Messi stretches but can't connect, but it runs through to De Jong to head home at the back post!
Barça have one hand on their 31st Copa del Rey, and deservedly so.
Barcelona lead! They've been on top all night, but a goal had really been coming in the past few minutes.
It's a move not unlike that Griezmann chance a few moments ago: Messi plays De Jong into crossing space on the right with a perfectly-weighted ball, and he finds the Frenchman in space in the middle with a low, first-time ball into the six-yard box. This time, Griezmann makes no mistake, sidefooting firmly past Simón. 1-0 to Barça!
Williams sticks on the after-burners and scuttles towards the left-hand byline, but his cut-back can't find a red and white shirt. Barça clear with ease.
Raúl García touches the ball down towards Williams at the near post, but the striker can't collect and Barça clear.
Other than that, it's been total Barça domination since the break.
Athletic make a second substituion, replacing Berenguer with Mikel Vesga.
Having denied Pedri with a very decent stop, Simón now produces an absolutely top-notch save to prevent Busquets from scoring what seemed like a certain goal!
In his attempts to clear Alba's cross into the box, Martínez thumps the ball straight at Lekue, and it bounces right to Busquets some six yards out. Busquets turns it towards goal, but Simón somehow manages to get his body in the way.
Busquets cannot believe it.
Griezmann lays it back to Pedri, who shoots low towards the near post from the top of the of the box, but Simón is quickly down to parry! That'sn a very decent stop - Pedri's strike was fizzing into the bottom corner.
Messi stands over a dangerous Barcelona free-kick on the right wing, but delivers straight into Simón's arms.
What a chance for Griezmann! Messi slips Dest in behind the Athletic defence and into crossing space on the right-hand side of the box. Dest has Griezmann all on his own in the middle, and finds the Frenchman with a low ball into the six-yard box... but Simón saves!
Griezmann's shot hits the Athletic keeper, bounces back off the forward, and drifts just wide of the post.
Athletic Club have made a half-time substitution, replacing Iker Muniain with Íñigo Lekue. Muniain had been struggling with a niggle in recent days.
Lekue has slotted into the right-back role, with De Marcos stepping up to right midfield and Berenguer moving across to the left of the midfield to fill the void left by Muniain.
Peeeep! We're back up and running at the Estadio de la Cartuja.
In pictures: Athletic Club's Íñigo Martínez stretches for the ball in the Barcelona box, sending Alex Berenguer's free-kick just wide in what was Los Leones' best chance of the first half.
(Photo: MIGUEL MORENATTI/DIARIO AS)
Peep peep peeeep! Goalless it remains. Barça have had an overwhelming amount of the ball - around 85%, say the most recent Opta stats - and have had several shots. That said, Ronald Koeman's men have only once come genuinely close to scoring, when Frenkie de Jong hit the post in the fifth minute.
Athletic have spent most of the half chasing the ball and have had considerably fewer attacking moments than Barça, but would have a goal to show for themselves had Íñigo Martínez's shot from Alex Berenguer's dead-ball delivery been a few inches to the right.
One minute of time added on in Seville.
Alba crosses low, but - at the second attempt - Yeray thumps it clear. There were timid appeals for a penalty when Yeray's initial clearance seemed to hit Dani García's hand, but play on, say the officials.
Williams gets what, by my count, is his first chance to run at a back-pedalling Barça defence and make use of his not inconsiderable pace. He scampers towards the left-hand byline and cuts the ball back across goal, but it's too close to Ter Stegen, who grabs hold.
Messi thumps it into the wall.
Messi is again fouled by Dani García, this time right on the edge of the box. This one is worth a yellow, the referee decides.
Barça aren't happy with Martínez Munuera for not playing the advantage - they feel Alba had a chance to advance into the box and shoot.
Still, the Blaugrana have a highly dangerous free-kick in prime Messi territory...
Messi is down and in some pain after being blocked off by Dani García. Again Barça's players suggest to the referee that it might be an idea to get his cards out - indeed, Messi gives him a real piece of his mind when he gets back up - but Martínez Munuera is unmoved. Alba clips the free-kick into the box, but Athletic get it away.
Dest gets to the byline and whips in a cross to Griezmann at the near post, but the Frenchman is beaten to it by Íñigo Martínez, and is penalised for giving his former Real Sociedad colleague a sly shove before they jumped for the ball.
Berenguer fells Pedri, bringing an abrupt end to the midfielder's progress towards the Athletic area. Barcelona want a yellow card for that, but Berenguer escapes with no more than a minor ticking-off.
Update on Piqué: DAZN's Lucía Villalón says the defender has just directed a nothing-to-worry-about gesture at the Barcelona bench.
Messi dinks a lovely ball into Mingueza's run into the box, before advancing into the area to collect the return. Collect it he does, but Yeray blocks the Argentine's shot. Fine play from Messi.
Athletic finally enjoy a spell of possession that lasts more than just a few seconds. They give it back to Barça before long, though, and back come Ronald Koeman's men at the Basques.
Alba fires in a low cross from the left, but it's cleared. Moments later, Messi jinks inside Dani García and flops to the turf 25 yards out from goal, but the referee says no free-kick.
Araújo is warming up at a very leisurely pace, reports DAZN's Lucía Villalón, suggesting that if Piqué has tweaked something, he hasn't tweaked it hard enough to come off anytime soon.
Messi cuts back onto his right inside the box, wriggling into a yard of space to shoot at goal, but Unai López throws himself in the way of the forward's strike and gets enough of his body on it to take the sting out of it. The shot loops harmlessly into Simón's arms.
Well, this is interesting - Ronald Araújo is warming up for Barcelona, it appears. Possibly with a view to replacing Gerard Piqué, who is only just returning from injury.
The game continues to be played almost exclusively in the Athletic half.
Dest swings in a cross from the right, but his delivery thumps off Balenziaga's face and behind for a corner. The left-back looks more than a little dazed.
Athletic deal with the corner.
There's the first moment of attacking danger from Athletic - and Íñigo Martínez is inches away from giving the Basques the lead against the run of play! Berenguer whips in a lovely free-kick delivery from the right wing, and although a stretching Williams can't quite get to the ball, Martínez does manage to connect - but it flashes just, just wide of Ter Stegen's right-hand post.
Another shooting chance for Barcelona! Griezmann controls a high ball at the near post before pulling it back to Messi 10 yards or so out, but the Argentine drags his effort into the side-netting.
Busquets goes in high on Unai López, prompting Athletic's plays to energetically encourage the referee to reward the Barça midfielder with a booking... but Juan Martínez Munuera keeps his cards in his pocket.
Dest cuts in from the right, roves into the box and, having carved out a yard or two of shooting space, pulls his effort just wide of the near post.
Genuinely not sure whether Athletic have completed a single pass yet.
Barça hit the post! It's been all Blaugrana ball so far, and De Jong is inches away from giving his side an early lead.
Messi pulls the ball down at the back of the box - again, Athletic's marking is charitable, to say the least - and lays it back to De Jong, who fires first-time torwards Simón's right-hand corner, but sees his shot bounce back off the woodwork.
Busquets fizzes a low ball to the top of the box to De Jong, who plays it first-time to Messi. He in turn slips it sideways to Griezmann, who releases Alba into acres of space on the left-hand side of the box... but the flag was up against De Jong.
Peeep! We're underway!
Out come the teams at the Estadio de la Cartuja! I can confirm that Athletic Club Iker Muniain did NOT touch the cup, and therefore hasn't irrevocably jinxed a second final in as many weeks. Didn't even look at it.
The teams line up for the Spanish national anthem - and, at least on this score, the organisers may be rather relieved there are no supporters in the stands. Experience suggests the Basque and Catalan fans would not have listen in polite silence.
Barça blues in recent Athletic Copa clashes
Athletic have lost three Copa del Rey finals to Barcelona in the last 12 years - in 2009, 2012 and 2015 - but Los Leones have the upper hand over the Catalans in the sides' most recent cup meetings, winning two of the last three.
Form guide: Athletic struggling, Barça back in LaLiga race
Since beating Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final in January, Athletic Club’s form has taken something of a nosedive. That win over Barça came as part of a run of five victories in Marcelino’s first six games in charge at San Mamés, but Athletic are now on a rather less impressive sequence of two wins in their last 10, and none in their last six.
Barcelona have been in rather better form, on the other hand: until last weekend’s defeat to Real Madrid, Ronald Koeman’s men had not lost in LaLiga in 19 games - a streak that has pulled them back into contention for the league title. Despite that Clásico loss, they’re just two points behind leaders Atlético Madrid.
What the coaches said: Ronald Koeman, Barcelona
Barcelona job on the line in Copa del Rey final?
"If you would like to hear my opinion about this, it's a little bit strange that I need to answer questions like this. We had a run of 19 games without losing, we lose one match and I need to talk about my future. Maybe I need to accept this, but I don't agree. You have to do your job and talk to people in the club. I have one more year of my contract. I know before the game what will happen if we win and if we don't win. I have to accept it. I took this job as a coach and I know there's a big pressure and I can handle that. Sometimes it's a little bit strange."
(Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
What the coaches said: Marcelino, Athletic Club
Putting 2020 final defeat behind them:
"The final against La Real is already history. We’ve analysed why we weren’t ourselves and now we’re only worrying about the 90 minutes in front of us."
Belief against Barça:
"We’re very excited about this final. We’re up against an extremely difficult opponent - but that won’t take away from our belief that we can win and bring the Copa back to Bilbao.”
"Head and heart"
"Head and heart. That’s the key to victory."
(Photo: RFEF/Diario AS)
Two changes to Athletic's previous final XI, Piqué returns for Barça
There are two changes to the Athletic Club side that lost the all-Basque Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad two weeks ago, Mikel Balenziaga replacing Yuri Berchiche at left-back and Unai López starting in midfield ahead of Unai Vencedor.
Meanwhile, Gerard Piqué returns to the Barcelona XI, the veteran central defender making his first start for the Blaugrana in a month and a half. Ronald Araújo makes way.
In the one other change to the Barça side that began last Saturday’s Clásico defeat to Real Madrid, Antoine Griezmann comes in for Ousmane Dembélé in attack.
No place even on the bench for either Riqui Puig or summer signing Miralem Pjanic.
(Photo: EFE/ Rodrigo Jiménez)
Barcelona team news
Starting line-up: Ter Stegen, Mingueza, Piqué, Lenglet, Dest, Busquets, De Jong, Alba, Pedri, Messi, Griezmann
Substitutes: Iñaki Peña, Arnau Tenas, Araujo, Braithwaite, Dembélé, Trincão, Sergi Roberto, Umtiti and Moriba
Athletic Club team news
Startling line-up: Simón, De Marcos, Yeray, Íñigo Martínez, Balenziaga, Berenguer, Dani García, Unai López, Muniain, Raúl García, Williams
Substitutes: Ezkieta, Morcillo, Núñez, Vesga, Lekue, Yuri, Villalibre, Capa, Vencedor
Athletic Club and Barcelona: 53 Copas del Rey between them
As I mentioned in my introduction, tonight's Copa del Rey final pits the competition's two most decorated clubs against each other in Seville.
(Photo: RFEF/Diario AS)
If you're not sure how you can tune into tonight's Copa del Rey final on the telly, we recommend you take a look at our guide on how and where to watch.
Athletic Club vs Barcelona: Copa del Rey final preamble
Hola! Welcome to our live-text coverage of the 2021 Copa del Rey final, as 30-time tournament winners Barcelona do battle with 23-time tournament winners Athletic Club in what will be the sides’ ninth meeting in the fixture.
Athletic may be the Copa’s second-most decorated club behind only Barça, but they haven’t won the trophy in 37 years now - not since beating the Blaugrana in a Bernabéu final chiefly memorable for ending up in a humongous punch-up. The Basques have lost their last five Copa finals, with three of those defeats coming against Barcelona in a six-year period between 2009 and 2015.
Most recently and most painfully, though, Athletic were beaten in the postponed 2020 final against regional rivals Real Sociedad earlier this month, Mikel Oyarzabal’s second-half penalty giving La Real their first Copa since 1987.
Defeat in two cup finals in two weeks would, in the words of the great Jimmy Bullard, be a real kick in the goolies for Marcelino’s men.
For Barcelona, meanwhile, tonight’s clash at Seville’s Estadio de la Cartuja represents an opportunity to get revenge for their 3-2 defeat to Athletic in January’s Spanish Super Cup final at the same venue.
That game, which saw Lionel Messi pick up the first red card of his club career for cuffing Asier Villalibre late on, is just one of a number of big occasions where Barça have come up distinctly short this season. Under Ronald Koeman, the Catalans have also lost twice to arch rivals Real Madrid, been beaten by Atlético Madrid, and been given a hiding at home by both Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
Tonight would be a rather good time for Barça to buck that particular trend. Not only would it ensure they avoid a second straight trophyless season - although they’re also in contention for LaLiga, of course - but it might go some way to persuading the soon-to-be-out-of-contract Messi that it’s worth sticking about next season.