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19.03.2008 13:52

King of the Cup in Mestalla

Berta Brau

It is ten year since Barça beat Mallorca in Mestalla to become the club who has won the Copa del Rey on most occasions with 24 titles. As such, Valencia’s ground is one that brings back fond memories for the Catalans.

Mestalla is, aside from being a difficult ground to visit, a stadium that harbours fond memories for Barça, especially in the context of the knock out competition. It was at Valencia’s ground that FC Barcelona won their 24th Copa del Rey in the season 1997/98, proclaiming the title of ‘King of the Cup’.

An exciting final

On the 29th of April 1998 Barça and Mallorca came out on to the field at Mestalla to contest the Copa del Rey Final. The Balearic side, thanks to some great play down the left from Amato and a finish from Stankovic, had the ball in the net in the 7th minute to open the scoring in Valencia. Héctor Cúper’s side stayed ahead for 60 minutes until Rivaldo levelled the scores finishing off a pass from Giovanni inside the six yard box. Even though Mallorca were down to 9 men thanks to two red cards, the game remained level after 90 minutes. In extra time, despite having a numerical advantage, Louis Van Gaal’s side could not make it count.

Victory on penaties

alegria_23.jpgThe time came for the game to be decided via the lottery of penalties. The tension was palpable in Mestalla with Ruud Hesp for Barça and Carlos Roa for Mallorca the two goalkeepers involved. The Dutchman made the decisive save in the shoot out from former Barça player Eskurza. That stop gave Van Gaal’s team the victory after a grand total of 16 penalties. That day in Mestalla Barça went into the history books as triple champions as they had already won the European Super Cup and the League, and they were able to claim themselves ‘King of the Cup’.

Return to Mestalla

Ten years later the blaugranes return to Mestalla once again in the Cup. This time it is not in the final itself, nevertheless, Barça will be playing for a place in this season’s final at a ground at which they became the club with the best record in the competition, an honour that no-one has yet taken from them.

King of the Cup in Mestalla
Two important wins in Mestalla
That victory was the second for Van Gaal’s side in Mestalla as Barça had come up against Valencia in the last 16 of the competition. In the tie the second leg was played in Mestalla and Barça ran out 3-1 winners.

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