Inside Spain: Copa del Rey dream, Carlo Ancelotti being romanced, hope of Lionel Messi return grows

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Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.

Spanish football was a breathless affair over the course of the last week, as two matchdays were squeezed into the weekend and midweek, clearing space for the main event on Saturday night – the Copa del Rey final. Real Madrid will face Osasuna at 21:00 UK time, with the Los Rojillo looking for their first ever major trophy, while Real Madrid seek their 20th.

It was not an ideal week of preparation for Los Blancos, who lost 2-0 away to Real Sociedad, conceding their eighth goal in three games. This one was a gift from Eder Militao, which will please Pep Guardiola. That consolidates Real Sociedad’s place in fourth (seven points clear of Villarreal with five games to go), but it also allowed Atletico Madrid to pass Real Madrid into second place. They beat Cadiz 5-1, with Antoine Griezmann picking up a brace, and his campaign for player of the season picking up too.

Off the pitch, it was a little better for Carlo Ancelotti. Reports emerged out of Real Madrid that a deal for Jude Bellingham is ‘imminent’, with the first details of his prospective contract emerging too. On a personal level, Ancelotti has maintained that he is not joining Brazil, but staying at Real Madrid – which has led to Brazilian Football Federation President Ednaldo Rodrigues admitting publicly they are after him.

Meanwhile hope is growing that Lionel Messi will return to Barcelona, despite their financial issues. Messi skipped Paris Saint-Germain training this week, was suspended without pay for two weeks, and then issued an apology video that resembled a hostage plea. He also has a new Barcelona tattoo, but their pursuit of Messi has started to cost them already. Director of Football Mateu Alemany is leaving the club in the summer, reportedly to head to Aston Villa. One of the reasons is a large pay day, another is the fact that he seemingly did not agree with bringing Messi in.

Finally, Real Madrid’s opponent in the Copa del Rey final is Osasuna. Football España travelled to Pamplona to speak to the decision-makers at the club, finding out how in the space of nine years, they went from the electricity being cut off at their stadium to the final – and potentially that much-desired first Copa. Read about it here.


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