When Andoni Goikoetxea broke Diego Maradona’s ankle in 1983, it gave the Argentinian plenty of time to think as he plotted his revenge on the Butcher of Bilbao. Maradona returned after months out before Barcelona’s Copa del Rey final with Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabéu in 1984.
The incident at the San Mamés the previous September meant relations were at a low between the two clubs. The matter was not helped by the game being playedat Real Madrid, an organisation detested by both sets of supporters, especially in the Franco era. Before kick-off, the Basques and Catalans booed the national anthem,showing their disdain for the Spanish state. A mutual hatred did aid the atmosphere as regional flags were waved fervently behind the metal fencing surrounding the pitch.
The opening stages were a collection of niggling challenges, most notably Athletic defender Iñigo Liceranzu testing out how well Maradona’s ankle had recovered from his teammate’s intervention nine months prior. Bernd Schuster in Barcelona’s midfield also had his bone structure tested, leaving his anger to grow over the course of the match.
In terms of actual football, it was a scruffy encounter focused on the physical rather than the technical. Athletic almost took the lead when Endika Guarrotxena surprisingly found himself the wrong side of the defence without being offside. When he regained composure he tried to chip Francisco Urruticoechea but the goalkeeper got a hand to it, slowing the ball down, allowing a Barcelona defender to get back and clear.