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Normally in football a defeat in the Copa del Rey final means a wait of anything between at least nine months to a year before the chance to make amends comes around again. Barça are making their first appearance in the fixture for 693 days as they look to make up for a 2-1 defeat in the final against Valencia in May 2019. However, the global Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head, football included, and circumstances have conspired to give Athletic Club the chance to put right the defeat against Real Sociedad in their most recent Copa del Rey final appearance after just two weeks.
The 2019/20 Copa del Rey saw lockdown imposed in Spain and the halting of professional football just days after the semi finals of the competition had taken place in early March 2020. Athletic Club had ended Barça's run of six successive final appearances with a 1-0 win at San Mamés in the quarter finals in February. Victory against Granada in the semi finals over two legs set up a mouth watering final, a first ever between Athletic and their Basque rivals Real Sociedad, to be played on 18 April 2020 in La Cartuja stadium in Seville. The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of the final and both clubs requested that it be delayed until fans could attend given the historic nature of the fixture.
The 2019/20 season came to an end without the final between the Basque clubs having been played - the two clubs still hoping for a return of spectators for the fixture. However, as the 2020/21 Copa del Rey progressed it became clear that the public health situation would not allow Athletic and Real Sociedad to contest the the trophy with fans in the stadium and so it was decided that the 2020 Copa del Rey final would be played behind closed doors at La Cartuja stadium in Seville on 3 April 2021, just two weeks before the 2021 final at the same venue.
Real Sociedad beat Athletic 1-0 to win the all Basque 2020 final
A 1-0 defeat in the final for Athletic against their Basque rivals means they have a chance to make amends just a fortnight later in Seville against Barça in the 2021 final. Coach Marcelino García Toral, the man who masterminded Valencia's victory over the blaugranes in the 2019 final, has a second opportunity to claim a Copa del Rey title against a side coached by Ronald Koeman who have had to wait some 679 days longer to put their most recent final defeat behind them.
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