Tue, May 12, 2009
Sports > Soccer

Barcelona plays Athletic Bilbao in Spanish King's Cup final

2009-05-12 11:48:47 GMT2009-05-12 19:48:47 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

MADRID, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao will decide which team wins the first football title in Spain when they play the King's Cup final on Wednesday night.

The game which will be played in Valencia's Mestalla Stadium, is a repeat of the 1984 final, which Athletic won by 1-0.

It is also only the second time the Basque side has appeared in a Cup final since then and the match has aroused huge expectation in Bilbao. Although the club has been given only 18,000 tickets, it is thought around 20,000 fans will travel without tickets, justfor the chance to enjoy the atmosphere and lend moral support to their team.

Athletic sit comfortably in mid-table, safe from relegation and that allowed coach Joaquin Caparros to rest all of his first team players at the weekend.

Even so the club's theoretical substitutes were still able to beat Betis 1-0 in San Mames last Saturday. Athletic's main threat on Wednesday night will be Spain international Fernando Llorente and hard working forward Gaizka Torquero.

Meanwhile Barcelona travels after the disappointment of being denied the Primera Liga title by an injury time equalizer scored by Villarreal on Sunday night.

Joseba Llorente's goal meant that although Barcelona is almost certain to win the title next weekend, last weekend's champagne had to be put on ice.

Despite the importance of the Cup final, coach Pep Guardiola will make some changes to his side.

Pinto will play in goal, while Bojan Krkic starts in attack instead of the injured Thierry Henry. Sergio Busquets also comes into the team instead of Andres Iniesta.

Barcelona is favorite, but the Cup has traditionally been seen as Athletic's favorite competition and their fans will almost certainly make more noise than their Barcelona opposite numbers and in this case a surprise cannot be ruled out.

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