The Spanish Football Federation announced yesterday that the final of the year’s Copa del Rey between Barça and Athletic Club on May 30 will take at Camp Nou. The first preference of both finalists was to play the game at the Santiago Bernabéu but after Real Madrid refused permission Barça suggested Valencia while Athletic suggested Betis’s Benito Villamarin as the venue but an agreement could not be reached. Finally, Athletic put forward San Mames and Barça followed suit by suggesting Camp Nou. A vote was taken with Camp Nou winning by 26 votes to 18.
The fact that there is so often controversy over the choosing of the venue for this game makes it difficult to understand why the authorities don’t change the system of taking this decision after the finalists are known. Real Madrid had no toilet excuses not to stage the final this time but they have demonstrated a lack of solidarity that only reflects badly on them.
The solution this year can hardly be seen as satisfactory as if there is any reason for waiting for the finalists to be known before taking the decision then surely it should be to ensure a neutral venue. With Barça as the bigger club already, playing the game at Camp Nou will give the appearance of an unneccessary extra advantage to the favourites.
However, recent precedents suggest the team playing away comes out better in these clashes as shown by Atlético’s win over Mourinho’s Madrid at the Bernabeu in 2013 or Chelsea’s Champions League win over Bayern in Munich. Barça will have home advantage but Camp Nou will have a very different atmosphere with 50,000 Basques shouting for the other team. It is a bit of a no-win situation with everybody expecting Barça to win. Personally, it worries me and I would rather have played the game at a neutral ground. Yes, we are still favourites but I feel our chances have been slightly reduced by the choice of venue.