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05.03.2009 18:10

Pep’s cup finals

Jordi Clos

Manager Pep Guardiola knows what it is like to reach a cup final. In his time as a player, Barça made it to three, and all bring back important memories in one way or another.

A cup final is a special game for any player. Pep Guardiola was involved in three Copa del Rey finals when he was on the Barça books. They all came in a row, from 1996 to 1998. Barça lost the first but won the following two, and for different reasons, Guardiola featured prominently in all three encounters.

Zaragoza 96: Disappointment and injury

The current manager’s first cup final came in the final season under Johan Cruyff, in the year that the famous group of youngsters dubbed the ‘Lleva del Mini’ (1995/96) made their break. It ended with a cruel defeat at La Romareda to double-winning Atlético Madrid. There were eight youth team products involved in that match, which was decided by a Pantic goal in injury time (1-0). One of those was Pep Guardiola, who ended the game hobbling after pulling a muscle, yet displaying the kind of courage that he was famed for at Barça.

Madrid 97: Win at the Bernabéu

GUARDIOLA_A_LA_FINAL_DE_COPA_x1997x001.jpgThe next season saw Bobby Robson take over the side, which made it back into the final. This time they faced Betis and the venue was the Santiago Bernabéu. Yet another game went into extra time, but this time Barça came out on top (3-2). Figo (2) and Pizzi scored the Barça goals that won the tie despite going behind to goals from Alfonso and Finidi. Pep Guardiola governed the midfield that day, and was his assist to Pizzi that made it 2-2 and took the game into extra time. The Copa del Rey was the third major trophy to go on display in the museum that season, following the Spanish Super Cup and the Cup Winners Cup.

Mallorca 98: Bittersweet victory

alegria_24.jpgLouis van Gaal arrived for the next campaign, and guided the side into its third consecutive final, and the last to date. It had been a tough season for Pep Guardiola, because a serious injury had kept him sidelined for much of the year. So, he missed out on the cup final against Mallorca in Valencia in which goalkeeper Ruud Hesp’s penalty shootout saves helped the club break the record for the most wins in this competition. With the captain on the sidelines, Barça celebrated their first league and cup double for four decades.
Pep’s cup finals
Pep Guardiola won an immense number of titles at Barça. Between 1991 and 2001, he won the European Cup, the Cup Winners Cup, two European Super Cups, six Leagues, two Spanish Cups, four Spanish Super Cups and three Catalunya Cups.

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