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Copa del Rey

Osasuna hunt for first trophy in Copa del Rey final against giants Madrid

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior (centre) pushes past Osasuna players in their previous meeting. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

The romance of the Cup  heads to Seville on Saturday when Osasuna, who have never won a major trophy in their 103-year history, look to break their duck in the Copa del Rey final against the mighty Real Madrid, who have won them all several times over.

Osasuna, who are based in Pamplona, a Basque city more famous for the running of the bulls, have only reached the Spanish Cup final once in their history, in 2005 when they lost to Real Betis in extra-time.

By contrast, reigning Spanish and European champions Madrid are hunting down their 20th Copa del Rey in their 40th final, albeit their first since 2014’s Clasico triumph.

Osasuna’s sporting director Braulio Vazquez highlighted the different worlds the clubs live in ahead of the showdown at La Cartuja.

“For Madrid, it’s another final of so many, but for us, it’s ‘the’ final,” Braulio told a news conference Wednesday.

“There’s excitement and nerves. We will enjoy it but we’re also going to compete.

“What we’ll live through we will never forget but we’re not just going there to have beers on the Guadalquivir (river).”

Osasuna’s trophy cabinet only contains a handful of second and third division titles.

Reaching the final is sweet reward for the club’s patience with coach Jagoba Arrasate.

In the middle of the 2020-21 season his side endured a 13-game run without winning, which left Osasuna 19th towards the end of January.

However Arrasate turned things around, keeping the club in the top flight, and this season they have earned a comfortable mid-table berth.

‘Suffering like dogs’

Osasuna reached the final with a dramatic extra-time winner against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames, netted by Pablo Ibanez. 

“Right now, I have no words. We were suffering like dogs all through the game,” said an elated Ibanez.

That tenacity, intensity and determination is a key tenet of Osasuna’s game, and according to Arrasate, the character of their supporters and Pamplona itself.

It was on show on Tuesday at Camp Nou as his side, mostly filled with reserves to keep first-team players fresh to face Madrid, kept Barcelona at bay in La Liga for 85 minutes.

They were down to 10 men after half-an-hour but resisted the league leaders’ pressure until Jordi Alba struck late on. 

“Osasuna gave a lesson on what it means for us to compete,” said Arrasate — Madrid can consider themselves forewarned. 

Osasuna also need to be on their guard with Madrid having demolished Barcelona 4-0 at Camp Nou in April to reach the final. 

They are also into the Champions League semi-finals and if Madrid win both Carlo Ancelotti will match Zinedine Zidane’s tally of 11 trophies at the helm of Los Blancos.

“I am sure that we will win at least one of the trophies that are left,” said Ancelotti ahead of the second leg against Barcelona.

On paper, at least, it would be easier for the coach to prove himself right by guiding Madrid past Osasuna in Andalucia.

“If we have the good fortune to win the Copa del Rey this season, this team will have won every trophy possible in two years,” said Ancelotti in April.

“There are some teams that do not win that in a lifetime.”

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