Braulio Vázquez: “For Real Madrid it’s just another final, for Osasuna it’s THE final”
Nervous, excited and proud, Osasuna’s director of sports is going through the whole gamut of emotions ahead of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid.
Braulio Vázquez arrived at Osasuna in 2017, with Diego Martínez as coach and tasked with returning the team to top flight. Joining him was his right-hand man José Antonio Prieto, more commonly known as Cata. That year, the team finished eighth and out of contention for promotion. Martínez left and Vázquez brought in Jagoba Arrasate from Numancia for the 2018-2019 campaign.
A few months down the line, in May 2019, the Rojillos returned to the top tier of Spanish football as second division champions. It’s clear that a great harmony exists between Arrasate and Braulio - they go hand in hand, they have made the team grow and become a force.
Braulio has been successful with the majority of the transfers he has handled and always looks at the personal side of the player, as well as the football side because he is aware of how important unity within the Rojillo dressing room is to the team. When a player catches his eye, he has been known to travel hundreds of kilometers to convince him in person that his place is with Osasuma. In November 2021, he renewed his contract with the club until 2026.
Today, Vázquez cut a very happy figure as he took his place in the press room at El Sadar to look ahead to Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid. While Madrid have 19 Copa titles in their list of honours, Osasuna don’t have any - in fact they have only made it as far as the final twice - this year and in 2005, when they lost in extra-time to Betis. Unsurprisingly, Saturday is going to be a huge day up in Pamplona.
“I’m super happy, proud, nervous and excited. All that together. With a few tingles, goosebumps every now and again,” he told reporters. “Real Madrid have played in lots of finals, this is just another one for them, but for us it is the final”. As for whether he has imagined a dream scenario of Osasuna defying the odds and winning the final, he said, “For things to happen you have to dream about them. I am obsessed with the Cup final. [Assistant coach, Bittor] Alkiza always gets angry with me, but I think we are in the final because we believe, because we have faith. I think it’s the most beautiful game of the year by far. Last year I was at the Cup final and I told my wife that next year, half of the Cup would be red. Jagoba and myself think that if you want to achieve something you have to dream it, we are more romantic, more delusional than Alkiza, but he’s since joined the bandwagon”.
Osasuna’s Copa ambitions
Vázquez added: “What we are going through is a mixture of excitement and nerves. We are going to enjoy the moment but also compete. We will never forget what we are going to experience, but we’re not going to Seville to have a few beers by the Guadalquivir”.
He expects to see Osasuna put in a typical, strong performance in the final and not let the pressure get to them. He wants people to be proud of the team and make it absolutely clear that when you’re in the final, you have a chance to win. While conceded that Madrid obviously surpass them in terms of experience, but not in hope.
Braulio looked back over the past six years since he arrived in Pamplona and contemplated how far the team has come during that time: “The balance is one of pride, of satisfaction... Just thinking about it, I get excited about almost anything... Between all of us we have been building this, little by little, and being part of that makes me proud. I know that when the team travels down to Seville, to to La Cartuja, I’m going to get emotional because I feel very proud,” he ended.