Real Madrid was going for a double – they reached the final for Copa del Rey. The other finalist was Valencia, which, given their shaky season, did not look like formidable opponent. But predictions and reality are not the same: mighty Real was outplayed and lost 0-2.
A team like that seems unbeatable, but it was not the team facing Valencia. Real fielded Garcia Remon, San Jose, Isidro, Wolff, Benito, Del Bosque, Roberto Martinez, Stielike, Santillana, Garcia Hernandez, and Aguilar. Vitoria substituted Santillana in the 12th minute and in the 88th Mate replaced Garcia Remon. Inferior team, compared to the usual starters... few aging players, unfortunate loss of Santillana, and at the end the third goalie came in, only to receive a goal almost at once.
Valencia made the best of their chance. Mario Kempes scored in the 24th minute and the fragile lead was preserved to the end. To the very end – Kempes scored the second goal in the very last minute. The deep reserve Mate shamefully received a goal in only two minutes on the pitch, but why blaming him ? The match was lost by the time Kempes scored his second – the referee was going to whistle the end any second. And he did after the goal, Valencia victorious. It was their first cup since 1967 !
Proud winners of Copa del Rey. Valencia had to play with their second kit, because the first kits of the finalists collided – all white. Valencia also had to play the final at hostile Madird. And against the big stars of Spanish football. Yet, they won ! Kempes was the hero once again. So was the coach Bernardino Perez. The season turned to be successful.
It should have been, judging by the summer of 1978. Valencia had Mario Kempes – just crowned as world football champion. He was also the top scorer of the world cup finals and voted the best player of the tournament. And he was only 24 ! Valencia made the second big transfer too – Barcelona got Krankl, Valencia – Rainer Bonhof. It was arguably the best addition to Kempes – Bonhof was the best offering of the West German total football : strong, fit, excellent in defense, creative in midfield, dangerous in attack. Never tired, relentlessly covering the whole pitch, great passer. He and Kempes were both physically strong modern players – the duo had to be lethal. And they were not alone – Valencia had bright players like Solsona (26) and Botubot (23). Jose Manzanedo (22) was the best goalkeeper of the season. 18-years old teenager not only debuted, but immediately established himself among the regulars – Tendillo, a name frequently mentioned in the 1980s. The ever-present Paraguayans, tough and reliable, were also at hand – Carlos Diarte (24) and Eufemio Cabral (23). And one more Argentine striker – Dario Felman (29). It was promising team, lead by players made for each other. And the coach was experienced veteran – the former French star of Spanish descent Marcel Domingo. He played numerous years in Spain, but his coaching career was only in Spain – he knew Spanish football in and out and was at best coaching age – 54. Vastly experienced fox at his prime. Valencia was going for the title. Or so it looked like at first. The season turned out to be mediocre one and Domingo was fired. By the time of the cup final Bernardino Perez was at the helm – too late to improve in the league, but the cup was a good chance. The chance was not missed – the team had big potential, Kempes scored when it mattered most, and failure turned into a triumph. Kempes and Bonhof proved they were among the best of the world with a trophy. 5th cup for Valencia.