Real Madrid had made the Juvenil Copa Del Rey final for five consecutive years! In the previous four, they only lifted the trophy once, with their last win coming way back in 2013 against Athletic Bilbao. Last year, Santiago Solari's U-19 squad fell to defeat against Atlético Madrid, losing 4-3 over 120 minutes. Intriguingly, this year the boys in white were given a shot at revenge under new manager Guti — the man fans are desperate to take over at Castilla. Juvenil A put out a strong starting 11. Star Castilla man Achraf Hakimi was brought down to start at right-back, whilst Toni Segura and Óscar Rodríguez packed the midfield. Top scorer Dani Gomez got the nod up front. Mink Peeters and U-18 addition César Gelabert were the notable inclusions on the bench.
No surprises in the RM U19s starting XI for the Copa del Rey Final. Watch out for Mink Peeters & U18s' César Gelabert off the bench. https://t.co/nqAG5ZAfvb— Alex Kirkland (@alexkirkland) June 25, 2017
The game was always going to be very close, and both teams predictably created multiple goal scoring chances. Real Madrid were on it from the off, however, and 13 minutes in took the lead thanks to a sensational (to us, but standard for him) Óscar Rodríguez free kick. Los Blancos were far superior early on, and could've had a second goal, but Dani Gomez saw his effort smack off of the post. Atlético were never going to sit back and take a loss, and began to push forward in search for the equalizer. Their search became successful right on the stroke of half time, and a cross came in for a completely unmarked Óscar Clemente to finish off nicely. 1-1 at the break, with everything to play for in the second half.
Atlético came back out an even more determined side. They pressed the whites heavily, and perhaps should have taken the lead a few times, if not for Real keeper Javier Belman. He finished off his brilliant personal season with a fabulous performance. Real Madrid struggled to create freely in the second half, with their best chance to win it in 90 minutes predictably dropping to Dani Gomez who fired his shot just wide. Just like last year’s final, the Juvenil Copa Del Rey was to be decided in extra time.
Fortunately, it was Real Madrid who came out more determined not to make it four final defeats in a row. They attacked freely from the off, and took the lead six minutes into extra time, when Óscar Rodríguez delightfully played through midfielder Alberto, who finished accordingly to make it 2-1. Moments later, the cushion was enhanced when Toni Segura decided to drive at the Atleti defence before curling a shot into the bottom corner! Mink Peeters and César Gelabert were brought in, and it was Gelabert who grabbed the fourth, rounding the keeper magnificently before tapping it into an empty net. 4-1, game over! The final whistle blew to jubilations, as the U-19s completed their historic season with a Copa Del Rey win.
A final with pleasant similarities to that of the first team’s identical fixture in Lisbon back in 2013, Juvenil A proved too much for Atlético to handle in 120 minutes. This was the last game of a long season for these academy players, and they will now venture off on their shortened holidays, before they start the next campaign under very different circumstances. Some of them will stay with the U-19s, some of them will leave the club, and most excitingly; many of them will form a large part of the Castilla squad next season. Guti unfortunately looks poised to continue as Juvenil A coach next year, as for now Real Madrid seem to have blindingly allowed Solari to continue his damaging reign at the helm. However, I doubt that the temptation to give Guti the shot he deserves can be avoided for too much longer. Whatever happens, we will be sure to bring you the latest updates. Congratulations to the Real Madrid under-19 squad. History is made!
Goals: Ó Rodríguez, Alberto, Segura, Gelabert.