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What has changed and what hasn’t changed since Real Madrid’s last Copa del Rey final?

A lot of things are different now, but many things have remained the same since Real Madrid last appeared in a Copa final

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Final Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Football is a constantly changing sport, with new tactics, players, and technologies constantly reshaping the game. It also appears to move in a circular motion at times, with old traditions and patterns repeating themselves. This sense of déjà vu can be felt for Real Madrid, who haven’t reached the Copa del Rey final in nine years. The world has changed dramatically since then, both socially and technologically, but the club’s fortunes in the competition have remained static. It serves as a reminder that, even in a rapidly changing world, some things never change while others change beyond comprehension.

What changed?

La Decima and four more

Real Madrid were just nine-time Champions League winners when they last played in the Copa del Rey final. The badge on the sleeve reads “14” now on Champions League nights. Of all the things that are unique to Real Madrid, this might as well be at the top of the list.

Xavi and Xabi are managers now

Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso started in the Copa del Rey final of 2014. Both are now managers in top-division football. Xavi manages Barcelona in Spain, while Alonso is doing great with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.

Spain v France - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu

In essence, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium continues to remain one of the ultimate cathedrals of the sport. The outlook is no longer the same. The former concrete giant has now taken the shape of a high-functioning modern arena, aspiring to be at the heart of sports entertainment on the continent.

Real Madrid Present Tenders For New Bernabeu Stadium Illustration provided by Real Madrid via Getty Images

The Real Madrid squad

Only three Real Madrid players who played in the final in 2014 will start the final this year in Seville. Despite Ancelotti’s claim about his fitness, Luka Modric’s availability is still questionable. Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal, on the other hand, should start the game against Osasuna. The rest of the Real Madrid XI is unrecognizable from the one that faced Barcelona nine years ago.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Final Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images

Honorable mentions

Zinedine Zidane, the three-time Champions League-winning manager of Real Madrid, was not a senior manager in 2014 yet. One of the biggest Real Madrid legends of all time, Toni Kroos, hadn’t even joined the club. Fellow legend Casemiro was just a substitute. The hero of that night nine years ago, Gareth Bale, has retired.

What didn’t change?

Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid

The man in the Real Madrid hot seat remains the same for the Copa del Rey showdown, nine years after Madrid’s last appearance in the final. Carlo went through the Bayern Munich, Napoli, and Everton routes before re-joining the team.

Guardiola in the Champions League semi-finals

Real Madrid faced a Pep Guardiola side in the 2014 Champions League semifinals. This time they are facing Pep’s Manchester City.

Real Madrid v Manchester City Semi Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Home of the Ballon d’Or

The reigning Ballon D’or in 2014, Cristiano Ronaldo, was at Real Madrid. Karim Benzema, the captain of Real Madrid, is the current holder.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Dani Carvajal

Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, and Fabio Coentrao started the final in Valencia in 2014. The other three are no longer at the club. Coentrao left in 2017 after two interesting spells, Pepe left in 2018, and Ramos left in 2021 — both as club legends. Real Madrid continues to trust Dani Carvajal at right-back even though they have moved on from the other players in the backline. The club has yet to invest in a long-term right-back.

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