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Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Barca Notches an Impressive Fourth Cup Win

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 25: Players of Barcelona pose with the trophy in celebration after their victory in the Copa del Rey Final match between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on May 25, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Angel Martinez/Getty Images
Alex HallCorrespondent IIIMay 26, 2012

Barcelona may not have finished first in La Liga or won the UEFA Champions League this season, but in coach Pep Guardiola's last match with the squad, the team notched its third cup victory on the year. Barca defeated Athletic Bilbao rather handily by a score of 3-0, shutting out their opponents en route to winning the Copa del Rey.

Anything short of a Champions League championship and league title is a bit more than just disappointing after Barca threw money around during the last few transfer windows and acquired top talent like Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez. Still, winning the FIFA Club World Cup as well as the European and Spanish Super Cup has to have the Barcelona faithful at least a little happy.

Barca's outgoing coach caught up with the Associated Press and reflected on his final season with the squad: "We had a very good year, we won four titles and winning this cup gives them better value. I’m happy to close out the season this way."

Lionel Messi added to his already world club record-breaking goal mark when he notched goal No. 73 on his impressive season during the 20th minute of the Copa del Rey final.

Guardiola told the Associated Press his thoughts on coaching the dynamic Argentinian, saying "It's been a privilege to have coached the best player that I've ever seen or will ever see."

The season wasn't what many envisioned for Barcelona after they assembled their All-Star caliber squad at the end of last summer's transfer window, but at least Messi was his typical unstoppable self and there are a few more trophies in Barca's already crowed case.

The team will be under new management—Tito Vilanova will be taking over as new head coach when next season roles around, but perhaps what this team needs is some time to get on the practice field and build the chemistry between their new pieces like Fabregas and their veteran members like David Villa.

Barcelona will be right up there with rival Real Madrid once again fighting for the La Liga title and will surely be out to avenge their disappointing exit from the Champions League next season.

With an offseason to build communication between the new and old faces in Barca along with acquiring a few more top caliber players, this team will be as deadly as ever come next season.

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