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Remember when Real Madrid played Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey Final?

A loophole in the rules allowed Real Madrid to face their reserve team in the 1980 final

Imagine how awkward this was at training.

Real Madrid are no strangers to a cup final, but how about playing one against your own team-mates?

That’s exactly what happened in the 1980 Copa Del Rey final.


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*Rubs eyes*

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*Rubs eyes*

For the first and last time in the history of Spanish football, a youth team played their parent club in a domestic cup final.

Real Madrid were pitted against their reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla.

Unfortunately, there was to be no fairy-tale ending for Castilla.

The inexperienced side were beaten 6-1 on the day, but just getting to the final is an underdog story to rival Leicester City.

But just how exactly did this happen?

Let’s find out…

My money is on Madrid

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My money is on Madrid

The loophole

Before 1991, reserve teams in Spain were treated completely independently from their senior team.

They were never allowed to compete in the same divisions as their counterparts.

Despite this, they were still able to feature in the same cup competitions, including the Copa Del Rey.

“Pint after this, mate?”

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“Pint after this, mate?”

Generally, youth teams would fail miserably in the cup, most times never making it past the first round.

If a draw placed a senior team against its reserve squad, the draw would be redone to ensure a different opponent.

Why are you swapping shirts? FFS

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Why are you swapping shirts? FFS

The only way that a youth team could ever face their parent club would be if both sides reached the final, something that would never happen… right? Wrong.

Route to the final

Eighteen youth teams entered the 1979-80 Copa Del Rey, with Castilla going all the way.

The team’s average age was just 20, with no player over the age of 23 on the roster.

Half and half scarves everywhere

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Half and half scarves everywhere

The young side was led by an equally young manager.

34-year-old Juanjo Garcia Santos was the coach and, unsurprisingly, guiding Castilla to the final was the crowning glory of his brief managerial career.

The big day

Kitted out in a changed strip of purple, Castilla, perhaps understandably so, let the occasion and nerves get to them.

The teams at kickoff

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The teams at kickoff

After initially keeping Madrid at arms length, Castilla found themselves losing 2-0 by half-time.

Shortly after the break, the minnows were 4-0 down as Madrid began to bully their younger brother.

Killjoys Real Madrid

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Killjoys Real Madrid

Castilla’s Ricardo Alvarez pulled back a consolation goal with ten minutes remaining, making the score 4-1, before Madrid scored two more to put the game to bed.

Once Madrid were awarded the trophy, both sides then celebrated the victory on the pitch together.

Imagine celebrating against your own team…

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Imagine celebrating against your own team…

Better! Sharing = caring

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Better! Sharing = caring

Famous faces

The final featured several household names.

England’s Laurie Cunningham was starting on the wing for that day.

The 1980 final win was Cunningham’s first of two Copa Del Rey titles, with the next coming two years later.

Cunningham in action against rivals Barcelona

Getty - Contributor
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Cunningham in action against rivals Barcelona

The former West Brom star also won a La Liga title during his spell with Los Blancos.

Another name which jumps out from the winning side is Vincente Del Bosque, of World Cup winning management fame.

Del Bosque got himself on the score-sheet on the day, netting Madrid’s fourth.

Some big names

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Some big names

Jose Antonio Camacho also featured, he would go onto manage Madrid over two spells, as well as Benfica.

The aftermath 

Despite the defeat, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Castilla!

Since Madrid had qualified for the European Cup, Castilla, as Copa Del Rey runners up, took their place in the European Cup Winners’ Cup (remember that?)

Castilla’s European adventure was, however, over before it really began.

The first round saw them face Trevor Brooking’s West Ham.

Despite winning 3-1 in the first leg in Madrid, Castilla were knocked out after West Ham beat them 5-1 after extra time at Upton Park.

Brooking and West Ham were too much for Castilla

Getty Images - Getty
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Brooking and West Ham were too much for Castilla

The return leg was played behind closed doors after West Ham fans caused crowd trouble during the first tie in Madrid.

Some things never change.

Castilla still remain the only reserve team to ever take part in an official UEFA senior competition.


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