Defeat in Copa del Rey final

MATCH REPORT. 20/02/2022. Photographer: Víctor Carretero (Granada)

Real Madrid managed to chalk up a 15-point lead in the first half, but failed to hold on to it in a Clásico that was decided in the final minute. 

Real Madrid failed to claim victory in the 2022 Copa del Rey final at Granada’s Palacio de los Deportes. A pulsating Clásico that was full of tension saw our team make a rip-roaring start and record a 15-point lead in the first half thanks to some excellent work in defense and a stellar opening quarter. However, Barça grew into the contest and got their noses in front in the final throws of the contest as our team fought to pull off a fightback right until the very last.

This Clásico bout began with a lot of tension and proved to be a physical battle as Madrid displayed an awareness that they would have to be at their best in defense against a Barça team that had averaged over 100 points in the tournament. The Whites executed the plan to perfection in the opening stanza. The team’s aggressive approach in defense, with consistent help and total dominance on rebounds left the Azulgranas at a complete loss as they sunk just one basket in the opening 10 minutes. The performance from Pablo Laso’s men couldn’t have been any more different as they ended the stanza with 19 points and also looking very strong in offense, where they were moving the ball well and as many as six players netted points in a 19-5 run and recorded a +23 in the PIR stakes. 

Video.59-64: Derrota en la final de la Copa del Rey

Defense provides basis for control
Madrid displayed all of its aggression in every defensive play. Barça also upped its game in defense and the tempo of the game rose yet another notch, with both teams showing themselves to be extremely solid at the back. The battle was played out in the zone in the second quarter. Some excellent work from Taylor saw our team chalk up a 15-point lead at 27-12 on 16’, but the opposition posted three straight baskets after counter-attacking moves to send the teams in at 29-18 at the break.

The shackles came off in the third quarter as the teams played with far higher tempo in attack and the play became more rushed. In this context, Barça kept clearer heads to reduce the arrears. Deck (seven points in the period), Rudy and Heurtel kept the team afloat to head into the final stanza with a five-point buffer (46-41). Barça managed to go in front for the first time in the contest on 34’  (46-48) as Madrid became unstuck in offense. Hanga sunk points to put our team ahead again, but nine straight points from Jokubaitis saw him pace a 11-4 run for the Azulgranas and make it 53-59 with two minutes to play. Madrid wasn’t about to throw the towel in and went all out and gave every last ounce (Hanga had to leave the court following an injury). Llull levelled things to make it 59-59 with 41 seconds left on the clock. However, Barça clinched the win from the free-throw line, which proved to be a decisive factor in the final (7/13 for the madridistas and 20/24 for the Azulgranas).