On April 20, 2011, Jose Mourinho‘s Real Madrid beat Pep Guardiola‘s Barcelona in a historic Copa del Rey final.
Barcelona and Lionel Messi had been dominating world football and looked almost invincible, but a Cristiano Ronaldo goal in extra time inflicted a rare defeat on Guardiola‘s side.
Mourinho has been looking back on a game that had so much meaning behind it and took place in an especially intense period in the history of the Real Madrid vs Barcelona rivalry.
“We faced a great Barcelona, who were a phenomenal team,” said Mourinho.
“Winning that day wasn’t just another trophy, it wasn’t just another Copa, not even a Copa that Real Madrid hadn’t won in a long time.
“It was beating Barcelona and that meant the beginning of a new future.”
That day at Mestalla, Mourinho lifted his first trophy as Real Madrid boss and, even though Barcelona would go on to win the league and the Champions League, knocking out Los Blancos along the way, he had shown that they could be beaten.
The following year, Real Madrid would go on to win LaLiga Santander, ending Barcelona‘s run of three consecutive titles.
“I remember the atmosphere going into that final,” said Mourinho.
“There was a lot of tension because that match was so much more than a final.
“The key to the triumph was the team, they showed their ambition with a great spirit.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had brought Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid specifically to end Barcelona‘s domination, after watching his Inter side eliminate the Blaugrana from the 2009/10 Champions League.
The 2011 Copa del Rey victory was a key milestone on the road to that plan paying off.
“It was a prelude to the [2011/12 league title], that’s why I talked about a new future,” said Mourinho.
“That Liga was a league of giants, like the [2011 Copa] final had been a final between giants, they were two fantastic teams with different styles and qualities.
“Sometimes a team wins a league because it has been the least bad, but sometimes, like that year, it is because they have been the best of the best.”