This weekend, Athletic Club and Barcelona take the pitch to compete for the 2021 Copa del Rey trophy. These two have a very long history in Spanish soccer, as they are also the two winningest teams of the national cup. For a long time, both faced against each other regularly in season-defining matches.
The upcoming game will be the tenth time in which the Basques and the Catalans meet in a Copa del Rey final. The Blaugranas were dominant in most of the finals, as they were the winners in six of them, while Athletic Bilbao claimed three triumphs. Since their last one, they couldn't win the tournament again so far.
34 years later, Athletic fans still remember that victory. In fact, that game remains in the world of soccer's memory, but not due to nice reasons. In what is recalled as 'The Battle of Bernabeu', Athletic Club and Barca's players were involved in a brawl after the Basques' 1-0 win. Diego Maradona belonged to that Blaugrana squad, and from time to time the video in which he is seen fighting against so many rivals is remembered.
The violent ending to the 1984 Copa del Rey Final
Things were heating way before the final was played. In those years, these two opponents were used to compete for the main prizes in Spanish soccer, both the league and the cup. Months earlier to the 1984 Copa del Rey Final, some episodes lead to hostility between the two squads.
In the fourth round of La Liga 1983/84, a terrible kick from Andoni Goikoetxea to Maradona sidelined the Argentine for about 3 months. The Athletic player had also gone harsh on another Barca star, Bernd Schuster, a couple of years before that. In addition, the two managers were on opposite sides.
César Luis Menotti, Barcelona's coach, encouraged an offensive type of playing, while Javier Clemente, from Athletic, was a more defensive-minded manager who didn't hold anything back and blasted even against Maradona before the final. Well, when the match was over, all the rage between both sides was unleashed, leading to a shameful episode in which Diego was in the middle of a huge brawl on the pitch.
After the shocking scenes seen that day in the Santiago Bernabeu, the competition's committee penalized Diego Maradona, two other Barcelona players, and three of Athletic Club, who were disallowed to play for three months. The scandalous episode that took part in the 1984 Copa del Rey Final between Barcelona and Athletic Club in which Maradona was involved is still known as 'The Battle of Bernabeu'.