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 By Chris Jones

Little Alaves upstage Barcelona despite losing Copa del Rey final

MADRID -- The thousands of Alaves fans -- representing some significant percentage of Vitoria, their little northern town -- began filling the hot streets of Madrid well before noon. For hours, it seemed as though their alleged rivals from Barcelona wouldn't even deign to join them. The conclusion of their meeting in the Copa del Rey was that foregone.

If there is anything more universal than football, it's the desire to see its biggest underdogs succeed. So it was impossible to wade through those...

Lionel Messi orchestrates Barcelona's Copa del Rey title with win over Alaves

MADRID -- Three quick thoughts from Barcelona's 3-1 win over Alaves in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday evening at the Vicente Calderon.

1. Messi guides Barca to Copa victory

Lionel Messi was again the inspiration as Barcelona finished the season by claiming the Copa del Rey trophy with a straightforward-in-the-end 3-1 win over Alaves on Sunday evening at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

Messi opened the scoring in trademark fashion on the half-hour mark, and after Theo Hernandez's free-kick...

Zou Feddal's career a tale worth telling as Alaves prep for Copa del Rey final

Alaves defender Zou Feddal, right, has had an unorthodox career, but he has a shot at winning the Copa del Rey against Barcelona and Lionel Messi, left.

Alaves players have been careful this week not to allow people to pat them on the back, in a patronising manner, for reaching the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona. But no player in either squad has had to suffer football slapping him in the face over and over again -- until he needed to work out whether it was stubbornness or love that kept him pulling on his boots -- more than Zouhair "Zou" Feddal.

The Morocco international wasn't a big-money import for the Copa underdogs; in fact, he's...

Alaves, Celta Vigo, Sevilla are well-run, must-see TV below La Liga's big three

Celta Vigo may not have won a trophy this season, but their campaign has been a runaway success.

Unless Alaves pull off the biggest Copa del Rey final shock in 13 years, since Real Zaragoza beat Madrid 3-2 after extra time in Montjuic's Olympic Stadium, all of Spain's top prizes will be divided between the two Clasico clubs. Again.

The cynical, "glass half-empty" brigade will moan and groan about that, I've no doubt. But brand me as a dewy-eyed optimist and let my football evangelism earn me the nickname Billy "Bumper" Graham, as I see sparkles of gold dust among the "also-ran" clubs that...

Why raiding left-back Theo Hernandez is wanted by Madrid and Europe's elite

Ahead of Saturday's La Liga "derbi" between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, one player has been making headlines in the Spanish capital: teenage left-back Theo Hernandez.

Theo, 19, has put many of Europe's biggest clubs on alert with his performances on loan from Atletico Madrid at Alaves this season and Marca upped the stakes with Tuesday's cover story claiming that Real Madrid were set to trigger his €24 million release clause to take him across the...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Real Madrid ready to add Theo Hernandez from Atletico Madrid

Theo Hernandez joined Alaves on loan from Atletico Madrid in August but could soon be heading to Real Madrid.

The football world's gossip mill is in full swing, and Transfer Talk will be analysing some of the bigger moves that may happen in the summer. Check out the latest deals here.

It seems Theo Hernandez's in-form season at Alaves will lead him back to Madrid -- though not to the club he left.

Theo, on loan from Atletico Madrid, is set to join Real Madrid this summer after the Blancos pay his €24 million release clause, according to Spanish daily sports newspaper Marca.

The 19-year-old brother...