During this season, not only in Spain, but in the World football in general, the debate on the professionalization of the sport rise to change the shape of the game forever. In the FIFA congress of Rome, the debate broke since the main international tournament at that time, the Olympic games, and football were questioned. The Olympic spirit was based on amateurism, but professional football was a fact in several countries, especially in the four associations of the United Kingdom and in Denmark. In other countries, like Spain, professionalism was also a question that had to be answered. In Rome, despite the debates which did not close the question of professionalism, FIFA ended up approving a first definition of it. As a consequence, the RFEF also approved professionalism domestically.
Professionalism required new structures. The clubs needed to find new ways to fund the new expenses on salaries and, as a consequence of it, new ideas to rise the amount of spectators, members and ticket-holders in their stadiums. The adoption of professionalism made necessary the reform of the competitions which mainly had a local or regional character in order to jump from this reduced territorial impact to a national tournament with a higher amount of games that would make possible to face the new expenses of the sport. The final step of this process was the creation of La Liga in the year 1929. Until then, new steps were taken in order to accomplish with these goals and, in this season, these new ideas affected the most traditional national competition: the Copa del Rey.
The first change in the Copa del Rey was the acceptance of the top-2 clubs of each regional tournament in the competition. For the first time since the free inscription had been abolished by the RFEF in 1913, the Copa del Rey enjoyed teams that were not winners of their regional tournaments. At the same time, the format changed in order to increase the amount of games. The new system of the competition was the following: 8 groups of 3 teams each, so the winner of each group would play the Quarter finals. The semifinals and the final would be play in one game. These were the participants of the Copa del Rey:
Group I: RCD Español, Valencia FC and Iberia SC
Evidently, RCD Español was the main favorite in this group. The pericos counted on players like Ricardo Zamora, the best paid player at that time and an international icon; the central back from El Salvador, Saprissa, and their new signing, the player of the Canary Islands, José Padrón. The main challenger was Valencia FC, who counted on players like the international Eduardo Cubells. Iberia SD, one of the teams that ended up founding Real Zaragoza, was the most weak team on paper.
Español did not disappoint and won all the games of the group with the expected superiority, while Valencia disappointed and could not even challenge for the top position of the group, missing their chance to advance to the next round
Group II: FC Barcelona, Levante FC and Zaragoza CD
There could only be one favorite: Ralph Kirby's FC Barcelona. The culés, despite the economic troubles related with the ban of Les Corts due to political reasons, counted on really important players like Josep Samitier, Paulino Alcántara, Emilio Sagi-Barba, Agustín Sancho, Vicente Piera or Franz Platko. Aside the already known stars, the club also signed the Uruguayan star Héctor Scarone, who had triumphed in the previous Olympic Games in the year 1924. Scarone failed to adapt to Barcelona and left the team, only playing 10 games with the clubs. With this collection of stars and international players, the Catalans were very superior to their humble rivals, Levante FC (one of the clubs that ended up forming the current Levante UD) and Zaragoza CD (who ended up merging with Iberia to form Real Zaragoza).
The Catalans completely owned their rivals, confirming the superiority shown in the regional triumph in the Campionat de Catalunya and they did not give any chance to their rivals in the fight for the first position of the group.
Group III: Real Madrid FC, Sevilla FC and Real Murcia
Juan De Cárcer's Real Madrid, who were winners of the Centro tournament, were the favorites in their group, despite they were not in their best moment in history. Still, they counted on important players like the international Juan Monjardín, as main star of the madridistas in those years. The madridistas also counted on their two first signings, the international José María Peña, from Arenas Club (18,000 pesetas, 188 euros), and "Miguelón" from Racing Sama. Sevilla FC rised as challengers, a classic club in the competition. Real Murcia was the most humble team in the group. The away victory of Madrid in Seville and the error of Sevilla in Murcia was enough for the madridistas to advance, only losing one game, when the group was already solved.
Group IV: Athletic Madrid, Real Betis and Cartagena FC
Athletic Madrid had failed to retain the regional tournament, but still counted on important international players, like Vicente Palacios and Luis Olano or the central back "Pololo". But the most important addition of the new Athletic Madrid was the signing of the prestigious coach Fred Pentland from Athletic Club. Despite being the main favorites to advance, Real Betis, a club that had never won an official tournament, made things very difficult to Athletic Madrid. Real Betis forced the replay in the last game of the group. The tie-breaker was played in Madrid and Fred Pentland's squad defeated Betis with a clear 4-2, which allowed the colchoneros to advance.
Group V: RC Celta Vigo, Sporting Gijón and Cultural Leonesa
In this group, there was not a clear favorite and the classic Copa teams, Celta and Sporting, were supposed to battle for the place in the Quarter finals. Celta's most relevant player was the international Pasarín. With Cultural Leonesa acting as sparring, Celta and Sporting had to decide the top position in their clashes. None of them failed at home and they were forced to play a replay, which was clearly won by Celta (5-0) in Madrid.
Group VI: RC Deportivo, Real Unión Deportiva and Club Fortuna
A group without classic clubs in those years and without a clear favorites. On paper, the most developed football of Galicia (Deportivo from A Coruña) and Asturias (Fortuna from Gijón), made them be more favorites than Real Unión Deportivo (a club that ended up forming Real Valladolid). At the end, the deportivistas were able to impose the football of their region and advance.
Group VII: Real Unión, Athletic Club and Racing Santander
It probably was the most powerful group on paper. Three clubs that knew each other and classics in this competition. Athletic Club was the club with more titles at that moment, counting on players like the international Chirri I or Acedo, although the club was suffering the departure of Fred Pentland and was in transition time. Real Unión was a power back then too, with the fantastic midfielder trio René Petit, Ramón Eguiazabal and Francisco Gamborena. Real Unión had recovered the crown in Gipuzkoa, defeating Real Sociedad.
Real Unión was very superior and, for the first time in this tournament, they were able to defeat Athletic Club in San Mamés, which turned out to be essential to achieve the first position of the group, eliminating the powerful Athletic from the last rounds of the tournament.
Group VIII: Real Sociedad, Arenas Club and Gimnástica Torrelavega
This group was meant to be a battle between Real Sociedad and Arenas Club, the two Basque clubs. Despite Arenas Club counted on the international Errazquin, they surely missed the departure of Peña. Real Sociedad was very superior in the group and defeated Arenas Club in their two clashes. These victories allowed Real Sociedad to advance to the Quarter finals with less competition than it was predicted initially, given the former runner-up status of Arenas Club.
The quarter finals were played among the winners of each group at the end of April 1926. The most relevant games were played among the teams of Catalonia and Madrid. In the first leg, RCD Español faced Athletic Madrid and the Catalans clearly defeated Pentland's Athletic (6-1). But the supposed superiority of the pericos vanished in the second leg, played in the Metropolitano, where the local team was superior (2-0). A tie-breaker was played in Zaragoza to decide the finalist and the tight game was won by Athletic Madrid, surprising Zamora's team, who failed once more in this competition.
But if there was a classic game, it had to be the one between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, given their old rivalry, started in 1916. On paper, the Catalans were superior, but no one really expected the clear victory of the blaugranas in Chamartín, humilliating Real Madrid at home with a clear 1-5. With this away victory, FC Barcelona confirmed their superiority in Les Corts, where the local fans could also celebrate the 3-0 victory on the madridistas, getting the ticket to the semifinals.
|Athletic Madrid's Luis Olaso|
The most surprising result happened in the clash between Celta and Real Sociedad. In those years, the Basque clubs were always favorites in their games. Probably, the 2-1 victory of Celta at home was not a big surprise, since the galegos had been playing in this competition for years and were a classic. But the 2-2 in Atotxa was the end of the run of Real Sociedad in this competition and a historical victory for Celta. Real Unión did not get surprised by Deportivo though. The irundarras only highlighted their clear superiority with two victories, an easy 3-0 at home and the expected 2-3 victory in A Coruña.
The semifinals were played in one leg played on neutral ground for the first time in decades. The first semifinal was played between Athletic Madrid and RC Celta Vigo in San Mamés (Bilbao). There was not a clear favorite for this game and the expected balanced became an evidence during the 90 minutes of the game. In the first minutes of the game, Athletic Madrid looked for the victory and dominated the game. As a consequence of it, Olaso took advantage of a great pass of Tudury to face Celta's goal. Olaso was more technical than powerful in the definition and advanced his team in the scoreboard (1-0). Celta reacted looking for the goal that could tie the game. After half an hour, the celtarra Chicha headed a ball into the net to tie the game, setting the 1-1 at half time.
In the second half, it was Celta who surprised Athletic Madrid in the early minutes and Polo scored the 1-2 for his team. Athletic Madrid needed to tie and started to dominate the game again. During all the second half, Athletic Madrid closed Celta in their own field, enjoying multiples chances, driven by a magnificent Olaso. However, Celta's defense was efficient during all the afternoon. But when Celta was almost celebrating their pass to their first final in history, a foul is kicked into the box and, after several rebounds, the ball falls in Cosme's feet, who sotfly pushed the ball into the net, forcing the extra time. In the extra time, Celta had to play with their goalkeeper, who had been seriously injured, being replaced by a usual defender. In these circumstances, Athletic Madrid looked for a winning goal and, given their huge dominance of the game, they achieved it. Cosme, who had saved Athletic Madrid, also scored the last goal of the game. After the 3-2 for Athletic Madrid, Celta did not have the strength to look for the draw. Athletic Madrid advanced to their second final in history.
|El Atlético de los Caballeros|
At the same time, the second semifinal was played in Torrero (Zaragoza), Iberia's stadium, between FC Barcelona and Real Unión. Given the quality of their players, this semifinal was an advanced final. In the first half, Real Unión surprised Barcelona and was a machine of football since the very first minute. The impulse of the irundarras got Barcelona confused and, aside some exceptional chances, this half was fully dominated by Real Unión. In this situation, René Petit advanced his team in the scoreboard. Still, in a counter, Barcelona was awarded with a penalty, which was missed by Sagi-Barba and stopped by Emery. However, the 0-1 at half time was considered too short. Only a magnificent Platko avoided a bigger advantage for the Basque team.
In the second half, things changed since the very first moment. Very soon, Samitier tied the game in a beautiful personal action (1-1) and, when only 8 minutes of the second half had passed, a collective action between Piera and Samitier ended up in Paulino Alcántara's feet, who kicked the ball with the usual violence. Emery almost stopped the ball, which ended up slipping between his legs. In just a few minutes, Barcelona had turned the game upside down. Real Unión tried to tie the game, but they suffered the consequences of their great physical effort of the first half and Barcelona did not suffer too much. In the last minutes of the game, as a consequence of the frustration, the international player of Real Unión, Errazquin, was sent off due to an agression. For the second year in a row, FC Barcelona was in the final.
The final was played in a packed Mestalla (Valencia) in front of 17,000 fans in a windy afternoon of May. FC Barcelona was the favorite on paper, given their collection of stars, but Athletic Madrid was a rising team. The athleticos had not triumphed in their regional tournament and struggled to advance from the group stage, but their recent games had been good, which gave them hopes to surprise the culés.
In the first minutes of the game, there was not a clear owner and the tension was evident, as a fight between Platko and Triana showed. But Athletic Madrid was able to hit first: the defender "Pololo" hanged a ball into the box that was headed by Vicente Palacios, making Platko's efforts useless. This goal affected the Catalans and Athletic Madrid enjoyed their best minute of the game. Despite the efforts, Barcelona was unable to control the game, enjoying some chances, but also leaving the game open for a possible second goal of Athletic Madrid. The 1-0 was the result at half time.
|FC Barcelona, Copa winner 1926|
In the second half, Ralph Kirby's team had to look for the draw, but things did not change much in the first minutes. Quite the opposite, in a counter attack, Palacios dribbled Platko and was tackled by Walter inside the box. The referee awarded Athletic Madrid with a penalty and Cosme did not miss the chance to score the second for Athletic Madrid in what it was a surprising result after 58 minutes (2-0). Barcelona had half an hour to overcome the game and the reaction came in an error of the Athletic Madrid defender "Pololo" who gave the ball to Planas. Taking advantage of the spaces left by Athletic Madrid, Planas gave the ball to Samitier, who showed his class to score the 2-1. But when this goal was still celebrated by the culés, Sagi-Barba crossed a new ball into the box, which was slightly touched by Piera, leaving Just alone, who scored the 2-2 only one minute later. As it had happened in the semifinals, Barcelona was able to overcome their worst moments in just a few minutes. In this second half, things were as it had been predicted and Barcelona closed Athletic Madrid in their own field, enjoying multiples chances to score the winning goal. But this goal did not arrive and the 2-2 sent the two teams into the extra time.
The extra time did not change the trend of the game and Barcelona still was superior, although Athletic Madrid, in the hands of De Miguel, Olaso and Palacios threatened Platko's goal with some dangerous counters too. The final had to wait until the second half of the extra time to be decided. This time, Just connected with Samitier, who assisted Alcántara in a classic trademark pass. The striker crossed the ball when the goalkeeper Barroso was coming out of his goal to score the decisive goal for the blaugranas. In the remaining 8 minutes, Barcelona essentially defended the result, while Athletic Madrid tried with more heart than heart. The 3-2 was the result at full time and FC Barcelona had achieved their 7th Copa title in history, the second consecutive. At the same time, this historical Athletic Madrid started to be called the Atlético de los Caballeros (The Lord's Atlético).
At the same time, the new president of Athletic Madrid, in disagreement with Arenas Club, proposed a different league with more teams and the elimination of the regional tournaments. But this proposal, known as "Liga Maximalista", did not count on the support of the RFEF, who considered that it was elitist, since the regional tournaments were considered essential for the most humble clubs and the development of the game. In one way or another, nothing was agreed in this year.
These negotiations were not easy, but they did not affect the development of this season, which continued with the same format used in the previous one. The only difference was the acceptance of the winner and runner-up of a new regional tournament: Extremadura. As a consequence of the extension of the Copa del Rey, two of the eight groups would have four teams, instead of the three used in the rest of the groups.
The participant clubs were:
Group IV: Real Unión, Athletic Club and Real Zaragoza
As always in those years, the Basque clubs were favorites in this competition and, in this particular case, Arenas Club and Real Sociedad were the winners of their regional tournaments. In Real Sociedad, a very young Paco Bienzobas made his debut in this season. Arenas did not have big stars, but the block was the main asset of this solid team. Iberia definitely was a weaker rival, without real chances to advance.
As it was predicted, Arenas and Real Sociedad were the top teams and, as it had happened in other groups, each team won their home games, so the tie had to be broken in a replay that was played in Madrid. Arenas Club, the winner of Bizkaia, did not fail and achieved the victory (2-1), which allowed them to advance to the Quarter finals.
Group VIII: RC Celta, Gimnástica Torrelavega, Club Fortuna and CD Español
In this group, the evident favorites were the runner-up of the tournament of Galicia. Pasarín's Celta found no rival in the group with the lowest level among all the ones who competed in this Copa del Rey. Celta won every single game against clubs with much lower tradition and economic power.
In this round, with the 8 best teams of each group, the "real" Copa started with the knock-out stages. In the first leg, the home factor was essential as the result showed. In Chamartín, the balanced game between Madrid and Europa was more tight than the result shows, but the madridistas were able to defeat (2-0) their Catalan rivals, who also had their chances to surprise the local team. In Les Corts, FC Barcelona did not have a walk in the park in their game against Betis (4-1) as the score suggest and even the Catalan press considered the victory "too severe". In El Molinón (Gijón), Sporting surprised Real Unión (3-2) in a worked victory over the Basques. It was a clash of absences, since Sporting did not count on Herrera and Real Unión played without René Petit. In Getxo, Arenas Club did not get surprised by Celta either and the 3-1 truly reflected the superior level of the Basque club.
In the second leg, the most shocking result, according to the press, was the defeat of Barcelona in Seville against Betis. Despite the injuries and absences in the Catalan team, everyone expected them to win (or draw at least) anyway. But the 1-0 for Betis was enough to force a replay and the béticos were applauded by their great achievement. Equally surprising was the 4-1 victory of Europa on Real Madrid. The victory of Europa was a possibility, but the superiority of the Catalans was not in any prediction. The surprises did not finish there and Arenas Club, who were considered clear favorites given their performance in the first leg, raised doubts about the team. Celta defeated the Basque team with the same result of the first leg (3-1) and also forced the replay. In Amaute, Real Unión's home, the local team got reinforced by their star, René Petit, who made the difference in the final 4-1.
|Arenas Club in 1927|
So all the clashes had to be decided in games played in neutral ground. In Santander, Real Unión and Sporting had to decide a place in the semifinals. Sporting surprised Real Unión with the return of Herrera to the lineups and took the lead in the game, reaching the half time with advantage. However, Real Unión imposed rationality in the second half to overcome the result to advance (3-1). At the same time, Real Madrid humilliated (8-1) Europa in Zaragoza. Europa had shown a better image in the first two games, but Real Madrid had a wonderful afternoon of football and the madridistas seemed to reach their best level in the key moments. In Madrid, Arenas Club suffered to defeat Celta, but the celtarras would need to wait another year in their eternal search of glory. Arenas imposed their attitude and physical power over Celta (3-2). Finally, also in Madrid, Barcelona defeated Betis thanks to a goal scored by Samitier in the early minutes of the game. The Catalans were superior and the scoreboard did not reflect the reality of the game in that sense (1-0), although this lack of efficiency raised doubts on the "double champion".
As in the previous edition, the semifinals were played on neutral ground, in Torrero (Zaragoza). The first semifinal was a classic of the competition, Real Unión-Real Madrid. The recent history made the unionistas favorites, although the madridistas were a rising team in that moment. But Real Unión did not give a chance to a weaker Real Madrid. The Basque team managed and dominated the whole game with a magnificent Petit and the final 2-0 was considered too short, given the lack of efficiency of Errazquín in this game. Real Unión only confirmed the predictions and advanced to the final, their 4th final in less than 10 years.
The surprise was the victory of Arenas Club on FC Barcelona. In the case of Barcelona, the star Samitier reached the game in bad physical conditions, a fact that definitely affected his team, although Arenas could not count on their star defender Vallana either, while Yermo was not in his best physical form either. Each team in their own style, technical in the case of the Catalans, physical in the case of the Basques, played a fantastic game that ended up with a 3-3 after 90 minutes. In the extra time, the best physical form and the enthusiasm of Arenas made the difference and the half injured Yermo scored an epic goal in the last minutes to decide the finalist. FC Barcelona, big favorite of the competition, had fallen in the semifinals.
In the final played in the stadium of Torrero, in Zaragoza, in front of 16,000 enthusiastic fans, there was a clear favorite: Real Unión. The game was essentially physical, but the fair play between the two Basque clubs was remarkable too. The defenses of both teams shined over the forwards, the fantastic duo of Real Unión, the classic Alza-Berges, was able to avoid Arenas' chances on the goal defended by Emery. At the same time, despite the absence of Vallana, still injured, Llantada and Críspulo were amazing too.
In the first half, the weight of the game fell on Real Unión's shoulders. René Petit did not hide in this important game either and the star of Real Unión led the first attacks of his team during the game. In these initial minutes, the Arenas goalkeeper, Jaúregui, had to make several interventions to keep his goal unbeaten. Arenas Club also counted on several chances, but the defense of Real Unión and their goalkeeper were very efficient in their jobs. At half time, despite the domination of Real Unión, the 0-0 was the result in the scoreboard.
|Real Unión in 1927|
In the second half, Real Unión also dominated the first minutes, but Jaúregui remained immense defending his goal. At some point, Arenas started to enjoy their best minutes, enjoying their best chances. It was when the Arenas captain, Laña, shot from almost the midfield line, surprising everyone... but the ball hit the crossbar. Only a few minutes later, the referee Escartín disallowed a legal goal for Arenas, scored by Robus, in an "imaginary offside", according to the reports. When the match was reaching the minute 90, there was an action that could have defined the game. A crossed ball by Echeveste (Real Unión) was stopped by Laña (Arenas) inside the box. The penalty was awarded by the referee. The game was in the already experienced René Petit, but Jauregui seemed to be blessed that day and stopped the ball, forcing the extra time (0-0).
In the extra time, Real Unión forced the engine looking for the victory with an impressive pressure on Jauregui's goal. But the goalkeeper of Arenas remained unbeatable, stopping chance by chance the continuous attacks of the irundarras. The game had been so physical that the muscular cramps were usual in those minutes. In the last minutes, when the game was losing impulse given the tiredness of the players, the winger of Real Unión Sagarzazu found Echeveste inside the box. This time, the striker of Real Unión found the calm to prepare his shot and the goalkeeper Jauregui, who had been doing miracles all the afternoon, could not stop the ball that went into his net. It was just 3 minutes before the end. Echeveste, with this goal, gave Real Unión their 4th title in history, a deserving victory for a historical team of this decade.
During the spring and summer of 1927, the conversations to create a league continued. The RFEF had a meeting Santander during April. Initially, the RFEF seemed to accept the "Liga Mínima", counting with the winners of the Copa in history: Athletic Club, Barcelona, Real Madrid, , Real Unión, Real Sociedad and Arenas Club, but with two exceptions with the inclusion of Español and Athletic Madrid. This proposal found the radical opposition of clubs like Valencia, Sevilla, Celta, Sporting or Racing Santander.
Since there is not an agreement, two parallel and separate unions of clubs were created: the Unión de Clubes Campeones, which promoted the "Liga Mínima" with the historical winners of the Copa and, at the same time, the Liga Profesional del Fútbol Español, which gathered clubs like Athletic Madrid, Iberia SD, Celta Vigo, Sevilla, Valencia, Sporting Gijón, Racing Santander and Real Murcia. At the same time, trying to avoid the rupture, the RFEF imposed a solution, changing the format of the Copa, which would be divided in four groups of six teams each, who would face each other in two rounds, advancing winner and runner-up to the knock-out phase. In this way, the amount of games was increased, although this solution was not satisfactory for all the clubs.
At the end, the clubs decided to start their leagues, the "Máxima" and the "Mínima" (also called "Torneo de Campeones"), but not breaking the status quo of regional tournaments and the Copa del Rey. These leagues were not considered official and this fact plus the lack of atractive of these leagues made both fail and many games were cancelled or abandoned, while most of the teams did not present their best teams in this competition.
Once more, the Copa del Rey would be the most important tournament and the participants would be chosen among the regional winners, although the format made the competition to be similar to a league system after all. At the same time, in order to avoid so many replays, the RFEF decided to count the goals instead of the victories in order to decide the knock-out rounds and also the goal difference to decide the ties in the group stage. These were the participants:
In order to set the groups a previous round, was needed and the runner-ups of the Catalan and Centro tournaments (Europa and Real Madrid) had to face the winners of Baleares and Extremadura (US Mahon and Patria FC). The clubs of the powerful regions did not fail. Madrid defeated Patria with a 10-1 global result, while Europa did the same with US Mahón (13-3).
Group I: Real Celta, Real Oviedo, Deportivo, Cultural Leonesa, Racing C. Langreo and Real Unión Deportiva
The main favorites of this group were the clubs with a higher economic power: Celta, Deportivo and Oviedo, although Racing Langreo was not ruled out, since they had left Sporting out of this competition for the first time in a long time. Sporting had lost some of their most important players, who were signed by other clubs, like Herrera, who had signed for Athletic Madrid.
During the first round of the league, the most rich clubs showed their superior level. Deportivo was the best team after five games, leading the standings with 8 points, closely followed by the champions of Asturias, Oviedo (7 points) and their eternal rivals, Celta (6 points). Cultural Leonesa still hold some chances, while Langreo and Real Unión Deportivo failed to be an option
In the following games, the defeat of Deportivo in Oviedo and the decisive draw at home against Celta, left the three favorites in 11 points with 2 games to be played. In the last matchday, Deportivo closed their miserable second round with a defeat against the weaker Cultural Leonesa, while their rivals did not fail in their games. These results left Deportivo, winner of Galicia, out of the Copa, while Celta and Oviedo advanced to the Quarter finals.
Group II: CD Alaves, Real Madrid, Racing Santander, Athletic Club, Gimnástica de Torrelavega and Athletic Madrid
Real Madrid was a rising team, as they had proven in the previous edition of the Copa, despite their defeat in the regional tournament. The club had signed a new coach, the former Real Madrid and Barcelona player and referee, José Berraondo, famous by the incidents of 1916, which broke the relationships of the two clubs of his career. In the team, the most relevant players were Juan Monjardín and Félix Pérez Marcos. In Atheltic Club, the team still managed by Lippo Hertzka still was under construction. In this year, Unamuno was signed from Alavés, while the young Garizurieta and Chirri II were promoted from the reserves team. This team won the regional tournament, but the biggest surprise was the appearance of CD Alavés, who had left Arenas Club out of the Copa. Alavés was a team full of young talented players like Ciriaco and Quincoces, who started to peak. Athletic Madrid still enjoyed a fantastic team, with players like Vicente Palacios, Luis Olaso or Triana, who had taken the team to a new regional tournament. Patrick O'Connell still managed Racing Santander, who had signed Loredo from Sporting, although the two teams of Cantabria (Racing Santander itself and Gimnástica were the weakest teams on paper).
During the first round of the league, the surprise was Alaves, unbeaten by their rivals and with surprising important results, like the victory against Athletic or the draw in Chamartín against Real Madrid. These results allowed them to lead the group with 8 points. The alavesistas were closely followed by Real Madrid and Racing Santander, in a one point margin. Athletic Club did not lose their chances despite their average performances, but their defeats and draws against their direct rivals were punishing them. Definitely, the most disappointing results were the ones of Athletic Madrid, who lost all the games. The runner-ups of 1926 were out when things had just started.
In the following 3 games, Alavés kept their impressive line of results, including a draw in San Mamés. Real Madrid were able to follow the good results of the leader, remaining 1 point far from them, while Athletic was 2 points away, but wasting the chance to catch their regional rival in the direct clash. O'Connell's Racing Santander started to fail in the important moments and started to lose their chances, while Gimnástica and Athletic Madrid kept their mediocre path.
In the last two games, Alavés only needed to assure the first position and despite they dropped points in these games, their solid position and the direct clash between Athletic and Madrid allowed them to win the group. Real Madrid were also able to draw in Bilbao to win in Alava, although this result was not enough to reach the first position. Athletic's victory against Real Madrid was essential to keep their chances alive until the last game, but their defeat in Santander left Athletic out of the knock-out stages once more.
Group III: FC Barcelona, Real Sociedad, Real Unión, Europa, Iberia SD and Patria Aragón
FC Barcelona, who had won the fourth regional tournament in a row in a close fight with Europa, which required a final, had fired Domby as a request of the players, who also demanded to be managed by a former player of the club and member of the Board: Romà Forns, the first Catalan coach in the history of the club. The team that had been a power during the last decade started a transition. Paulino Alcántara had retired the previous season, while Sancho started to disappear from the lineups. The stars of the team were Samitier, Sagi-Barba, the German defender Walter and the legendary goalkeeper Platko. In Real Unión, the current winners of the competition, the base of the team were the players that had taken the club to the victory the previous season, so Petit, Luis Regueiro, Gamborena, Emery and company were considered as one of the main favorites for the title, since they had also triumphed in their regional tournament. In a similar way, the biggest rivals of Real Unión, Real Sociedad, counted on a solid team that was ready to fight for the title. Benito Díaz was the manager of the team who counted on the forward Paco Bienzobas as main player along with others like the goalie Jesús Izaguirre, the midfielder Amadeo Labarta and Trino Arizcorreta and the also forwards "Cholín" and "Kiriki". The humble but efficient Europa, as challenger for the Catalan title could not be discarded either, while the Aragonese Iberia and Patria did not have the tradition to compete with these rivals.
In the first five games, FC Barcelona won all the games, except a draw at home against Real Unión, a direct rival, leading with 9 points. As it was predicted, the other two challengers were the two Basque clubs. Real Sociedad (8 points) also won all the games, except their defeat in Les Corts, while Real Unión (8 points) had only dropped points in their visits to the direct rivals, but they had to receive the visit their rivals in the second round of the league.
In the following games, Barcelona seriously damaged their chances with the defeat in Atotxa against Real Sociedad and the unexpected draw at home against Europa, who had failed to convince in this competition. Real Unión started to fix the results of the first round, as the victory against Real Sociedad showed. So, before the last game, Real Unión led the standings with 15 points, while they were followed by Barcelona and Real Sociedad with 14. The goal difference favored Barcelona over Real Sociedad, but the Catalans were in trouble, since they had to visit the Gal stadium, the new home of Real Unión. In this last week, Real Sociedad did not fail in their game, with a victory that assured their pass to the Quarter finals. But FC Barcelona achieved an epic and important victory in Irún against Real Unión. The current champions were out of the competition, while Barcelona and Real Sociedad advanced in the competition.
Group IV: Real Murcia, Valencia FC, Cartagena FC, Sevilla FC, Real Betis and Levante FC
In this group, there was not a clear favorite and all the teams had a similar level on paper. In the Copa de Andalucía, for the first time in history, Real Betis won the title over the clear dominant team of the competition, Sevilla FC. In the Valencian tournament, there was a similar situation and Levante FC were able to win the regional title over Valencia FC. The ché team had signed an English coach, James Herriot, to drive the team where Cubells and Montes were the clear stars. Real Murcia, who had won their third regional title in a row, was the strongest team, while Cartagena FC were constantly the main challengers.
In the first round, the supposed balance got evident. Four clubs finished the first round with real chances to advance to the following round. The most efficient and also the surprise was the good level of Real Murcia, who were able to lead the standings (7 points), despite their initial defeat at home against Sevilla. But only one point down, Valencia, Betis and Sevilla followed them closer. Cartagena was the weakest team, as it was predicted, while Levante disappointed with only one victory in these five games.
In the following three games, Real Murcia were able to keep the lead with two more victories. Valencia kept being their main rival, keeping the negative one point gap, despite a humiliating defeat against Cartagena. Betis still hold some options with one victory and a draw, although the fixtures did not favor them, since they had to visit Murcia and receive Valencia. Sevilla lost all the options with two surprising defeats at home and a draw in the derby. Real Murcia only needed a victory in the last two games and they did not fail to dominate the group. The clash between Betis and Valencia was decisive too and the valencianistas finished with the options of Betis with an away victory. So Murcia and Valencia advance, while Andalusia failed.
In the first leg of this round, FC Barcelona and Real Oviedo met in Les Corts, packed with 45,000 people in the stands. The Catalans were clear favorites and they did not fail. Barcelona played a fantastic first half to reach the half time with a stunning 4-0 with goals by Samitier and Sastre in pairs. In the second half, the game was crazy and the crowd had to applaud both teams, Oviedo did not surrender and presented a heavy fight, which was equally responded by Barcelona for the final 7-3 with Samitier scoring 4 goals.
In La Condomina, Alavés visited Murcia. It was a very balanced game dominated by the defenses in the first half, which ended with a 0-0. In the second half, the surprising Basque club was superior and was able to achieve a 2 goal gap, although Murcia could score the honor goal in the last minutes. The 1-2 for CD Alavés result looked decisive though.
|Alavés in Les Corts|
In Coia, Vigo, Celta's first half was sublime and made the local fans to dream with a historical victory against Real Sociedad. The early goals of Murilla and Lecube allowed Celta to win 2-0 at half time. However, the goal of the Basque Yurrita in the last minutes of the game set a final 2-1 that left things open for the second leg.
The surprising result was the one of the game played in Chamartín between Real Madrid and Valencia. The madridistas were superior on paper and they only needed 16 minutes to score two goals. The 2-0 result at half time made the madridistas believe that they almost had the ticket to the semifinals in their pocket. But a poor second half of the madridistas and the goals of the valencianistas Pérez and Rey surprised the local fans. The 2-2 result in Chamartín was a great achievement for Valencia.
In Mendizorroza, Alaves' home, the game was not as peaceful for the locals as the predictions made everyone think. In fact, Real Murcia were able to tie the clash with a goal in the first half. The worrying result for Alavés at half time made the home team react in the second. Alavés were able to overcome the result with two goals in only 15 minutes and ended up winning the game with a clear 3-1.
In Atotxa, Real Sociedad needed to overcome the bad result of the first leg and it was not an easy task for them. Real Sociedad looked for their place in the semis since the first minute, but at half time they had only tied the clash (1-0) with a penalty scored by Bienzobas. The polemics grew in the second half, with another penalty for the Basques, also scored by Bienzobas, which caused the protests of Celta to the referee Serrano Pelayo. Real Sociedad could only celebrate the victory when the game was about to finish and the Basques scored the definitive goal (3-0).
In Mestalla, the local crowd and the ché team had a chance to reach the semifinals against one the giants of the competition. Definitely, the plan of Valencia was not coward and their attacking football allowed them to achieve an early 2-0 with two goals scored by Ródenas. In the second half, Real Madrid tried to overcome the extremely negative result, but they could only scored one goal (Uribe) when the game was near the end. In the last minutes, Real Madrid tried it, but Valencia was able to resist to reach a historical semifinal.
In the first leg of the semifinals, Unamono's and Ciriaco's Alavés visited Les Corts. The surprising Basque team had been doing a great campaign and, despite the higher prestige of the Catalans, they fought against the barcelonistas until the last minutes of the game. The press of the following day showed the respect Barcelona had for Alavés and their campaign. Alavés played with the usual Basque style, more physical than technical, totally opposed to the blaugranas. In the first half, Samitier, who was in great form, led the attack of the culés, who were able to show a great level of football. But, despite the good level of the Catalans, the home team could only score in the last minutes of the first half with a doubtful penalty on Piera by Quincoces and scored by Más.
In the second half, Alavés looked for the goal and Barcelona looked full of doubts. Definitely, the best minutes of Alavés were in these minutes of the second half. However, the attacks of the Basques were inefficient and, in the last minutes, the visitors paid their efforts. When the local fans were worried about the short result to face the second leg, Carrulla scored the second for the Catalans in the minute 72. The good luck went with the Catalans too. Only three minutes before the end, a shot was deflected by the Alaves defender Carrullo into their own goal. The final 3-0 was probably excessive, but probably definitive to face the second leg with guarantees.
The second semifinal was played in Atotxa, where Valencia visited Real Sociedad. In the first minutes of the game, the surprising Valencia enjoyed the best chances, but pretty soon the game got ugly, with violent tackles, and the visitors started to lose their initial concentration. With the game changing its direction, Real Sociedad scored the first goal with certain dose of luck, since it was the valencianista Reyes who deflected the ball into his goal in the minute 27. The valencianistas suddenly disappeared from the game and Real Sociedad did not miss their chance to crush Valencia. In the last 15 minutes of the first half, Cholín twice (35' and 44') and Mariscal (38') broke the dreams of the valencianistas.
In the second half, Valencia looked for a goal to enter in the game, but it was Kiriki who scored the 5th for Real Sociedad. The rest of the game did not have much story. A depressed and lost Valencia could only creep on the pitch and two more goals of the donostiarras closed the historical 7-0 victory and Real Sociedad definitely sealed the pass to the final for the first time since 1913.
With the results of the first leg, this second round of games did not have much story. In Mendizorroza, Alavés knew that their small chances passed from an early goal that could make Barcelona feel doubts. Their initial pressure on Platko's goal was huge, but Barcelona knew how to manage this situation to keep their goal safe. The suicidal attacks had its consequences. In the minute 20, Sastre scored the first goal for the blaugranas, a goal that totally destroy the hopes of Alavés. The local team collapsed and the blaugranas became the only owners of the game, toying with Alavés. Before half time, Arocha scored two more goals to leave the game without any kind of emotion (0-3). In the second half, things did not change much and, while Barcelona enjoyed their own football, Alavés only wanted the game to finish. Sastre again and Samitier scored two more goals to close the beating on the home team (0-5).
|Real Sociedad's Bienzobas|
In Mestalla, despite the lack of emotion given the 7-0 of the first leg, the stadium presented a good atmosphere. The valencianistas wanted to give their fans the pleasure of a victory to close the season. This was the purpose of the home team, who attacked Real Sociedad's goal since the first minute. When the game had just started, the referee awarded Valencia with a penalty. Pérez shot the penalty and scored, but the referee considered that a Valencia player had entered into the box and the penalty had to be repeated. In this second chance, Izaguirre, Real Sociedad's goalie, stopped it. Right after this chance, Valencia got the lead in the scoreboard with a goal scored by Ródenas, in a polemic action protested by the donostiarras. Valencia kept insisting in the attacks, while Real Sociedad lacked tension on the pitch, as a consequence of it, Ródenas scored the second for Valencia. The valencianistas were crushing their rivals and a handball inside the Basque box was awarded with a new penalty. Once again, Pérez made the attempt, but Izaguirre was Real Sociedad's hero stopping the second penalty of the afternoon. Real Sociedad reacted in the last minutes of the first half and, in a counter, Bienzobas crossed the ball to "Kiriki" who calmed his team down with a goal. The 2-1 was the result at half time.
In the second half, Valencia kept insisting and Ródenas scored his hat-trick in the first minutes of the second chapter of this match. Despite the dominance of Valencia and their best chances, the game died slowly, given the overall result. Real Sociedad scored the last goal of the afternoon, again "Kiriki", and the referee made the final whistle, which gave Real Sociedad the ticket to the final.
|Platko injured in the final|
Final Replay II
Spain had to play the Olympics at Amsterdam and the replay had to be postponed several weeks. The base of the Spanish team was mainly formed by Real Sociedad players (7 of them went to Amsterdam, Zaldua, Labarta, Aizkorreta, Bienzobas, Cholin, Mariscal and "Kiriki"), while no one of Barcelona traveled was called by the Spanish team, who had remarkable absences like Zamora or Samitier. As it happened in 1924, Spain failed to meet the good results of 1920 and the team had to go back home after the Quarter finals. Spain defeated Mexico in the first round (7-1), but once again was beaten by Italy, this time after a humilliating 7-1 in a replay. These Olympic matched postponed the final that was finally played at the end of June, almost two months after the first game between Barcelona and Real Sociedad.
It was played in El Sardinero too, this time in front of 16,000 fans. Since the first minute, Barcelona closed Real Sociedad in their own field and the attacks of the Catalans were very dangerous. In the minute 8, Samitier dribbled three players to shot to a corner of Real Sociedad's goal, unreachable for Izaguirre (1-0). Barcelona kept dominating the game and feeling more comfortable on the pitch, but only a few minutes later, Walter committed penalty on Marculeta and Zaldúa tied the game (1-1). This goal was just an anecdote as the continuous attacks of Barcelona proved and, in the minute 21, the culé Arocha takes advantage of an error of Jauregui, who did not stop an easy ball, to score the 2-1. Only 4 minutes later, in a long ball, Samitier fooled Jauregui with a movement without the ball, displacing the goalkeeper and Sastre scored the third for Barcelona. The rest of the first half was a lesson of football of Barcelona, although the result did not change.
|Barcelona, Copa winner 1928|
Summary of titles
Copa del Rey
10 - Athletic Club (1902, 1903, 1904, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1921, 1923)
8 - FC Barcelona (1910, 1912, 1913, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1928)
5 - Real Madrid (1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1917)
4 - Real Unión Irún (1913, 1918, 1924, 1927)
1 - Real Sociedad (1909)
1 - Arenas Club (1919)