Copa Del Rey – the largest domestic cup competition in Spain. Beginning in 1903, this contest has proven to be a prolific battleground for Spanish football clubs.
Year after year, lower league minnows dream of great upsets and making a name for themselves, while larger clubs such as Barcelona relish the opportunity to stamp their domestic dominance.
Any Spanish football fan will tell you that the Copa Del Rey, or Campeonato de España–Copa de Su Majestad el Rey [Championship of Spain–His Majesty The King’s Cup] as it is officially named, has an illustrious history.
The competition has its roots in 1902, when a competition was held to celebrate the coronation of Spanish King Alfonso XIII. Many consider this a forerunner to the Copa Del Rey, which officially began the following year in 1903.
Athletic Bilbao were the first club to clinch this prestigious title. They went on to win it a total of 23 times after making 39 finals, second only to Barcelona, who have lifted the trophy 31 times in 42 finals.
As records go, no one has had a more prolific Copa Del Rey record than Lionel Messi. He holds the record for most goals in a final, most assists in a final, most finals scored in and most Man of the Match awards in finals. He is also the fourth highest goal scorer in the competition and has the most appearances in Copa Del Rey finals, along with ex-Barca teammate Sergio Busquets.
Probably one of the most memorable incidents in this competition’s history occurred in 2011, when the Copa Del Rey trophy was run over by a double-decker bus after Sergio Ramos, then captain of Real Madrid, accidentally dropped it from the top of the bus during the team’s celebration parade.
Till this day, the Copa Del Rey remains a highly anticipated competition. This year’s finalists Valencia CF and Real Betis have won it eight and two times respectively.
For Valencia in particular, this year’s final is an exciting shot at glory. The club last lifted this trophy in the 18/19 season, our first piece of silverware in over 10 years. We have not won anything since.
Going into our 18th Copa Del Rey final, Valencia will be looking to re-establish ourselves as a force to be reckoned with domestically, being the fifth most successful club in the competition.