Luis Rubiales “Athletic’s DNA Is Linked To The Cup”
This season’s Copa del Rey has been the most entertaining in decades and fans have the Spanish Football Federation to thank for all of the excitement. The RFEF’s decision to change the format to single-game elimination rounds made it possible for more surprise results and no one could have foreseen a semifinal of Athletic Club, Real Sociedad, Granada, and Mirandés.
The semifinal draw was held on Friday in Madrid which saw Athletic matched up against Granada. Next week the first leg will be played at San Mamés with the return match taking place on 5 March in Andalusia. However, before the drawing was actually performed, Spanish Federation president Luis Rubiales took a moment to speak about the four teams individually.
“Athletic is a model team with a unique philosophy,” said Rubiales. “In Spain we welcome people from all parts of the world with open arms, but today we must emphasize that what Athletic does is special, that with people from the land they achieve magnificent results year after year.”
At one point in time Athletic were referred to as the Kings of the Cup, having won the title 24 times, but have since been surpassed by Barcelona. Regardless, Rubiales acknowledged that the Copa del Rey has always been a special competition for the Zurigorri.
“If there is a club that has a special relationship with the Cup, of course Barcelona has won the competition more than anyone else, but Athletic’s DNA is linked to the Cup. If you search for Bilbao on Google today, La Gabarra is the biggest result. I think they are already untying it. As they are also humble and prudent, they know that there is a stumbling block.” Athletic believe that they can win the Cup this year for the first time since 1984, but to reach the final they must first eliminate Granada.