Saturday the 30th of May saw two cup finals, one in England and one in Spain.
Dominant Arsenal retain the FA Cup
The famous and most prestigious domestic cup competition in England, the FA Cup reached its climax to an unforgettable competition in 2014/15 with holders Arsenal taking on Premier League rivals Aston Villa.
The 2014 FA Cup winners were the bookies favourites going into the final, with Aston Villa looking like massive outsiders. With the stadium bouncing and the national anthem sung, the final of all finals got under way at 17:30pm.
Arsenal started the brighter of the two, with Aston Villa looking like having early final nerves. Arsenal in yellow went close on numerous occasions before finally taking the lead through Theo Walcott with a smashing volley just outside the six yard box following a headed knockdown from attacking partner Alexis Sanchez to give the Gunners the lead before half time.
After the break Arsenal continued their dominance in search of a clinical goal to seal cup victory, and it was summer signing Alexis Sanchez who stole the show with an unforgettable drive from outside of the box that dipped and swerved past a stricken Shay Given.
But Arsenal weren’t finished there, Aston Villa struggled to mount any comeback and in the 62nd minute conceding a lack luster goal to the boys in yellow. Captain for the day Per Mertesacker lost his marker in the box to head home freely to add to Aston Villa’s misery. As the game went on Aston Villa were unlucky to not receive a free kick just outside of the box and a penalty claim that was not given for a clear foul inside the box to strike a comeback from the Clarets. It certainly was not a day to be remembered for any Villa fan and to hit the final nail on the coffin, substitute Olivier Giroud added a fourth in stoppage time thanks to clever low cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to deceive the Villa defense.
Arsenal retained their trophy and have now won the competition a record number 12 times. The victory never looked in doubt, Arsenal were the dominant team right from the off, and midfield maestro Santi Cazorla deserves huge credit for his performance in the final with every attack beginning with the ball at his feet. A great end to a great season for the Gunners, if the summer is kind to the club and Arsene Wenger adds strength to his squad, this team could seriously mount a challenge for the title in the 2015/16 season.
Messi magic completes Spanish double for Barca
A different country, a different final but just another day in the office for Barcelona.
The Copa Del Rey saw the Nou Camp play host to Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. Barcelona are in search of another superb Spanish treble, only ever achieved once by the Catalan giants back in 2009 and they moved one step closer to making that happen in this final.
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are the most fearful and most talked about strike partnership across the globe, 120 goals this season between the three attackers is enough to see why.
Barcelona looked like the Barcelona of old once again with their fast passing and high possession confusing the Bilbao defense to ultimately falling to another goal from the little Argentinian.
And this was no ordinary goal from Messi, this goal was shear superfluous. On the 20 minute mark, Messi started with the ball 10 yards inside of the Bilbao half on the right hand sideline, surrounded by players Messi accelerated down the line before squeezing through a gap between three defenders to head towards the box, before shifting the ball and leaving one more defender in his wake, and then to finish a sublime strike nestled in the right corner of the Bilbao net. This goal will be remembered as one of Messi’s all time great goals, that I have no doubt and it put Barcelona one step closer to winning the cup.
On 36 minutes the Bilbao defense was opened up once again just like a gate to a front door, Barcelona made it look as simple as you like. Quick passing outside of the box between Messi and Ivan Rakitic did enough to confuse the defense, and then the clinical pass was made by Messi as he threaded through the ball to an umarked Luis Suarez who unselfishly put the ball on a plate for Brazilian and controversial signing Neymar to slot home from 8 yards and all but ensure Barcelona’s name on the Copa Del Rey once again.
It was for that man again, Lionel Messi to put the icing on the cake for the Catalans with a finely tucked away goal in the 74th minute following play down the right hand side. Barcelona took another huge step to taking another Spanish treble against Bilbao and now the Champions League final next weekend awaits for the club to further their history making, with Lionel Messi looking to do the same, after his performances this season arguably should guarantee him the 2015 Ballon D’or with 58 goals and counting for this season.
Pictures courtesy of The Independant, The Telegraph, The Guardian and the Daily Mail.