Barca give Guardiola perfect Cup send off


Barcelona gave coach Pep Guardiola the perfect send off Friday, beating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in Madrid to win the Spanish Cup in the coach’s last match in charge after a memorable four seasons in the Catalan hot seat. Lionel Messi, with his 73rd goal of the season, and a Pedro Rodriguez double finished off the Basque side inside the first half an hour and delivered Guardiola his 14th and final trophy at the club. Guardiola leaves the side he once played for with three Spanish leagues, two Champions Leagues, two FIFA World Club Cups, two UEFA Supercups, three Spanish Supercups and two Spanish Cup victories as coach.
The win was a repeat of Guardiola’s first title in the 2008-09 final when the Catalans ran out 4-1 victors over Bilbao. Guardiola has never lost to Athletic in his four seasons, winning ten out of 15 clashes between the two sides who boast the most Spanish Cup victories, Barca making it 26 with this win to Bilbao’s 23 titles. Afterwards the 41 year-old from the small town of Santpedor, 70 kilometres (40 miles) outside the Catalan capital, was happy with the win and spoke of the role Messi has played during his time at the club. “Fourteen titles in 4 years is a very high standard so I am very happy to leave the club in a good position, and tonight we played great for the first 35 minutes, we’ve had a good year with 4 titles so I leave very satisfied,” he said.
“From Messi I have learned to be even more competitive than I ever was, without him we would not have won the number of titles we have and I’m very priviledged to have coached who for me is the best player I have ever seen.” Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentinian veteran in charge of Bilbao was philosophical in defeat.