Copa del Rey final: 2 sets of fans loyal to their colors
Several Valencia CF's fans holds a replica of the Copa del Rey trophy in the fan zone ahead of the King's Cup final match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona in Seville, southern Spain, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/Raul Caro
Valencia CF soccer team's fans (L) and FC Barcelona's fans (R) go for a walk ahead of the King's Cup final match against FC Barcelona, in Seville, southern Spain, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/ Jose Manuel Vidal
Fans of Valencia CF (R) and FC Barcelona (L) gather at a fan zone in Seville, southern Spain, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/RAUL CARO
By Antonio Gutiérrez
Seville (Spain), May 25 (efe-epa).- The 2018/2019 soccer season in Spain is to come to an end later on Saturday at the Benito Villamarín stadium, venue of the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Valencia, whose fans got involved in a festive battle in Seville hours before the match gets underway.
Both Barcelona and Valencia had a shot at European glory but the Catalans were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals this month while Valencia suffered a similar fate in the Europa League, meaning the domestic cup, the Copa del Rey, brings the season to an earlier than usual close for fans of Spanish soccer.
Still bruised from that experience, Barcelona now looks to seal a fifth consecutive Copa del Rey trophy, while Valencia wants to simply put an end to an 11-season silverware drought in what is its centenary year.
For Barça, this year looks eerily similar to the same stage in 2018, when it was knocked out of the CL quarterfinals at the hands of Roma only to go on to rout Sevilla 5-0 in the cup final.
However, playing the Copa del Rey final is reason enough to celebrate and Barcelona’s fans did not want to miss the opportunity as they headed to Seville to cheer their team up, putting the European failure behind their backs.
The Catalan club has a tifo campaign orchestrated in the southern part of the Villamarin stadium under the slogan of “TOGETHER. Let’s go Barça!”
As usual, both teams have set up fan zones in the city, with Barcelona’s fan camp being located 400 meters south the Villamarín stadium. Its program includes musical performances, fun activities and restaurant and bar services.
A large stage and a tent to take the edge of the day's heat feature in the fan zone located in front of the Real Betis facilities but the festivities will be brought to a close at around 6.30pm as fans head to the stadium.
The Barcelona squad, meanwhile, departed the club's home city in northeast Spain earlier this morning and have been put up in a hotel near Sevilla FC’s Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan stadium.
Valencia’s preparations are not so different, as it expects 25,000 fans to arrive in Seville, several thousands of whom did not get to buy one of roughly 21,400 tickets the Spanish soccer federation allocated to each team.
Its fan zone is located to the north of the stadium and also includes music shows and restaurants.
Valencia fans have their own banner, which they are to hoist up in the northern section of the Villamarin stadium.
The squad, meanwhile, has been gathering since Thursday at a hotel in Jerez, a smaller city some 80 kilometers from Seville.
Thousands of fans have invaded Seville's avenues, streets and squares, gathering at bars and restaurants while chanting slogans of support their team.
To maintain public order, nearly 2,500 security officers have been deployed, including 1,300 members of the national police. EFE