Mikel Merino starred as Real Sociedad secured the 2020 Copa Del Rey title with a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Real Sociedad sealed the Copa Del Rey title of the 2019/20 campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. It was a valiant performance from Imanol Alguacil’s men, who were very solid defensively, allowing very little spaces for the opposition in the final third.
Although Real Sociedad did also dominate possession, the game was tightly contested and rather cagey for the most part as both sides struggled to create goalscoring opportunities. It came at a premium, however, as there were a total of just three shots on target in the entire game.
La Real, in particular, had only one shot on target, which happened to be the penalty strike from Mikel Oyarzabal after Inigo Martinez’s challenge on Portu inside the box initially saw him getting sent off. The decision was later overturned by VAR with the referee awarding a yellow to the Spanish international instead.
Either way, it was the most vital moment in the game, giving Sociedad an ideal incentive to just sit back and embrace a more defence-oriented approach. They had their nervy moments, but the lack of creativity from Bilbao saw them slump to a narrow defeat. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at these two sides in this exhilarating contest in the Copa Del Rey 2019/20 final.
Unai Simon: 6/10
Unai Simon had very little to do for the most part of the game as Real Sociedad could only muster one shot on goal. It was, however, the match-winning goal as Oyarzabal converted the penalty.
Oscar de Marcos: 5/10
Oscar de Marcos had problems imposing his attacking quality on the right flank, often being restricted in his forays down the flanks.
Yeray Alvarez: 6/10
Yeray Alvarez was culpable of a careless pass that led to the crucial turnover, eventually transforming into the goalscoring opportunity for Real Sociedad. He was otherwise solid at the heart of the Athletic Bilbao backline.
Inigo Martinez: 6/10
Inigo Martinez conceded the penalty around the hour mark with a challenge on Portu. Was unlucky to be given a straight red, although that decision was overturned by VAR.
— Fútbol Mediaset (@FutbolMediaset) April 3, 2021
Yuri Berchiche: 6.5/10
Yuri Berchiche was solid on the left hand side of the defence, but one could expect more effectiveness going forward from the Athletic Bilbao full-back.
Alex Berenguer: 6.5/10
Operating on the right side of the attack, Alex Berenguer did offer effective forays down the flanks. His influence, though, waned as the game progressed.
Unai Vencedor: 5/10
It was surprising to see Unai Vencedor start ahead of Mikel Vesga and Unai Lopez, but the move did not pay well for coach Marcelino as the midfielder struggled to impose his authority in the middle.
Dani Garcia: 5/10
Much like Vencedor, Dani Garcia had struggles in dominating the game, especially in possession as he offered very little creativity and ball progression.
Iker Muniain: 5.5/10
Operating on the left-hand side of the attack, Iker Muniain was often isolated on the flanks, making it difficult for him to create anything in the final third.
Raul Garcia: 6/10
Raul Garcia looked intent on making an impact on the proceedings, but he was not really involved in the game much.
Inaki Williams: 5/10
Inaki Williams struggled in the final third with a lack of supply. Also could not utilise his pace to make an impact going forward or on the counter.
Unai Lopez: 5/10
Unai Lopez replaced Vencedor midway through the second half. He did do enough to change the complexion of the game, though.
Asier Villalibre: 5/10
Asier Villalibre replaced Berenguer during the final phase of the game to add more penetration going forward.
Mikel Vesga: 5/10
Mikel Vesga did not improve the midfield after coming on for Garcia. Should have started the game, though.
Ander Capa: N/A
A late replacement for Berchiche. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Alex Remiro: 6.5/10
Alex Remiro made one fantastic save to deny Martinez in the first half, although the Real Sociedad goalkeeper was not really tested much despite Bilbao’s attacking impetus.
Andoni Gorosabel: 7/10
Andoni Gorosabel put in a valiant effort at right-back, offering a lot of defensive solidity with four clearances, three tackles and one blocked effort.
Igor Zubeldia: 7.5/10
Starting ahead of Aritz Elustondo, Igor Zubeldia was impeccable throughout the course of the game, using his experience and imposing presence to keep out the likes of Garcia and Williams.
Real Sociedad lift the Copa del Rey for the first time in 34 years 🏆 pic.twitter.com/nmuzj6ecd9
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 3, 2021
Robin Le Normand: 7.5/10
Robin Le Normand complemented the defensive effort from Zubeldia, making some important clearances and helping Real Sociedad retain their clean sheet.
Nacho Monreal: 6/10
Nacho Monreal had a poor start to the game as he struggled in possession while offering very little going forward. Did improve as the match progressed.
David Silva: 6.5/10
David Silva did not exactly enjoy a great game, but he kept the Real Sociedad midfield ticking with his passes and ball progression. Also deserves credit for playing till the very end.
Martin Zubimendi: 7.5/10
Filling in for Asier Illaramendi, Martin Zubimendi was a rock at the heart of the Real Sociedad midfield. He was supreme in his positioning, passing and distribution, controlling the show in the middle of the park.
Mikel Merino: 8/10
Mikel Merino was the beating heart of Sociedad’s second line of press. The former Dortmund man most notably intercepted the pass from Alvarez, before unleashing an accurate through for Porto, with the move eventually leading to the penalty.
🔎 | FOCUS
Mikel Merino v Athletic Club:
⏱️ 90′ played
👌 71 touches
🔑 1 key pass
💨 2/2 succ. dribbles
⚔️ 6/11 ground duels won
🏔️ 9/16 aerial duels won
🚀 3 clearances
❌ 2 tackles
📈 7.4 SofaScore rating
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) April 3, 2021
Portu won the penalty with an incisive run in behind Inigo Martinez, although that was his only real contribution to the proceedings.
Alexander Isak: 6/10
Alexander Isak struggled to get himself involved in the game despite Real Sociedad’s long spells of possession. The youngster did make some incisive movements but could have enjoyed more service.
Mikel Oyarzabal: 6.5/10
Mikel Oyarzabal did not offer much penetration going forward, but the Real Sociedad skipper coolly converted the penalty to hand his side the victory.
Ander Guevara: N/A
A late replacement for David Silva. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Ander Barrenetxea: N/A
A late replacement for Portu. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Carlos Fernandez: N/A
A late replacement for Isak. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Artiz Elustondo: N/A
A late replacement for Gorosabel. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.