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BFFs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol celebrate this season's final victory



FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao faced off for the Copa del Rey final in the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid today (not the larger Bernabeu, because Real Madrid are poor sports the bathrooms needed to be redecorated or something). Carles Puyol was out of the game following his recent knee surgery, and Dani Alves and his broken collarbone didn't even make it to Madrid, much less the bench. But that gave youngster Martin Montoya the opportunity to start as right back/winger, and although he wasn't a game-changer, he proved himself worthy of promotion to the first team. Most importantly, this was Pep Guardiola's final game with FC Barcelona, the languishing team he'd taken to 13 out of 16 trophies in four years.

The first half featured some of the most amazing football I've ever seen. I almost felt sorry for Athletic Bilbao as Barcelona ran them ragged, proving that a couple of weeks of rest had put our key players back in top form again, including Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique. Even with Copa keeper Pinto at first apparently playing for the wrong team - he kicked the ball out of bounds and passed it to the referee standing in a cluster of Athletic players, although eventually he did make an impressive save - the Basques didn't manage to score. Whereas Pedro Rodriguez, who has been struggling all season, scored a goal in the first three minutes, Lionel Messi followed it with a fantastic shot to the top of the net off an assist from Andres Iniesta, and Pedro then scored a second goal - leaving the game 3-0 before the 30 minute mark.


Pedro rejoices in his return to form


Iniesta throws himself into Messi's arms to celebrate their goal

After that, though, the pace slowed. Aside from a few scary moments for supporters of the Spanish National Team, when Xavi got kicked in the face, Sergio Busquets dropped to the ground, and Iniesta was fouled repeatedly by a player who seemed determined to rip his clothes off, nothing much happened. Still, it was great to see Pedro and also Pique playing a great game, hopefully guaranteeing that both of them will play for the Spain NT in the Euros after less than impressive performances earlier this season.

Once the final whistle blew, the lovefest began. The departing Pep hugged everyone on his team, everyone on the other team, all of the refs, the staff, anyone he could get his hands on, basically. The Barcelona players decorated their newest trophy with the jersey of teammate Eric Abidal, who has been recovering from a liver transplant after his cancer scare.







And, of course, there were locker room photos.


Leo's been working out, Man of the Masche, and that wacky Pinto


Victor Valdes deserves a trophy just for enduring the anxiety of watching Pinto play in his position


How sweet it is!



Now it's off to the Euros for many of the Spanish players from both teams, who will miss tomorrow's friendly game against Serbia due to the late date of this Copa final. We won't see our boys in blaugrana again until the start of next season - when hopefully they will all arrive well-rested, injury-free, and ready to reclaim the Spanish league.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
elizaberglund
May. 26th, 2012 07:09 am (UTC)
About Puyique celebrating, look at this!

geri
flywoman
May. 26th, 2012 10:42 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! Could they be any cuter?
elizaberglund
May. 26th, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC)
They are so sweet! ... and at least Geri can hold him up, when Puyi jumps on Xavi, the poor thing looks like he is about to collapse lol
flywoman
May. 27th, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Haha, yeah, every time anyone bigger than Iniesta jumps on Xavi or Messi, I'm terrified!
jezziejay
May. 27th, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
Things I noticed...Leo has indeed been working out - I am so into that these days. Not working out myself, but men who work out. Also, Victor? He is pretty! And why Xavi have over the knee socks?

One of these days I am going to leave a comment on your footie page that is not shallow. Today is not that day :D
flywoman
May. 27th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
I am so impressed that you recognized Xavi! I'm guessing the socks come over his knees because his legs are short ;).

I always notice Leo's cute little pink feet, but his arms are looking especially yummy.

Mmmmm Victor.

What are locker room picspams for if not to bring the shallow???
sageharper
May. 28th, 2012 10:52 am (UTC)
# Pique/Puyol bromance is my favorite thing ever right now.
# Madrid are such losers it's true, how petty can you get, hope everyone partied in the streets to show them.
# Montoya did really well I thought, hope he does get promoted (we need another defender anyway, should be forgone conclusion).
# It was interesting, and a good thing, to see that people respected Bilbao as an opponent; their skills and the principles of the club. Do wish them all the best, if only because little baby Iker in tears at the end nearly killed me.
# In the end yeah not much of a fair fight. Which shows how badly we need rest and rotation, but once we get it then we can still be unbeatable. Makes me quite hopeful for next season, it'll be an interesting one.
# That was such a sweet gesture with Abi's shirt, big happy family.

For some reason I keep getting suprised that Leo does indeed look like that, given his penchant for wearing kit that's slightly too big like a little boy growing into his school uniform. Masche has just been flawless all season. Pinto doesn't get enough respect, he had a good game and without Dani he keeps up our quota of swagger and accesorising (see Cuenca's glasses).
Hmm I dissaprove of VV wearing too much in that pic (come on, it's not a proper party unless someone is in their underpants). It must have been the weirdest thing for him sitting on the bench, he probably enjoyed having some company though.
Iniesta + trophies = otp, always.

I am so happy that it's Euros, otherwise the withdrawals would be too much; and really for them to come back in one piece is all you can ask for.
flywoman
May. 28th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
Pique/Puyol really are adorable. But now Pique will have to leave big brother behind and partner with Ramos at the Euros :(

Madrid... sigh... don't even get me started.

We desperately need to shore up our defense. Much as I love Puyi and Dani, they won't be with us forever, and Montoya seems very promising. Do we have anyone to train up for left back, or do we need to buy someone?

Politically/historically the two teams have a lot in common, so I'm not surprised that they and their followers have a lot of respect for one another. But yeah, little Iker :(.

If we can expand the squad a little, avoid injury, and rotate more next year so that no one pushes himself to exhaustion (incuding Leo, I'm looking at you, kid!), we could do very well next season.

Shirtless!Leo is not as impressive as some, but those thighs!!! and nice arms right now. Masche was the surprise of the season for me, what a beast. And LOL Pinto, he does add a lot off the bench, and I have to say that although his distribution can be dreadful, he is very good at blocking shots, maybe even better than Victor.

IKR, where are the nearly nekkid pics from this final? Normally Iniesta at least brings the goods.

I'm very grateful for the Euros too.

Slightly OT, do you know where I can find official squad lists for the Olympics? Or have they not been decided?
sageharper
May. 28th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
I know, that is such a shame, especially as Puyi had just got over the last injury.

Knowing us we'll probably buy a midfielder and make them play at left back.
I think Fontas played leftback for the first team (well he played, and then got injured). Position is kind of a fluid concept at Barca so it's hard to tell.
Still think we should buy though, to have someone with experience, but then they need to adapt to the Barca style and that takes time.
No wonder Pep needs a holiday.

Very true, I took to Bilbao initially because I saw them play a pre-season friendly but understanding the club/country more does help.

Hopefully Tito will be able to get Leo to rest as needed, doesn't seem like that would be the easiest thing ever.

Hmm yes very true; I'm more of an arms/legs/butt kind of girl so it works for me. Masche was great last season too and still getting better, such a gem.
As a complete package VV is still the best; but Pinto has a lot of skill too. With the Barca style then I don't think distribution is something they stress over, Victor's can be a bit sketchy too sometimes.

Have to love our ever dependable Andres lol, and Puyi's usually pretty reliable there (if only re;getting his own kit off). I'm still holding out hope for a reprise of nearly naked Xavi.

Hmm have no idea about the olympic squad. Can't see anything on the official website or from googling it. So am not sure it's out just yet then.
flywoman
May. 29th, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
I've never even seen Fontas play! Do you think we'll keep him?

Hopefully Tito will be able to get Leo to rest as needed, doesn't seem like that would be the easiest thing ever.

Hahahaha, too right. I think that Tito's made of sterner stuff than most people give him credit for. It will be interesting to see how he handles this team.

I'm still holding out hope for a reprise of nearly naked Xavi.

OMG me too. I don't even know what it is about him, but damn.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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