Jonatan Giráldez and Natalia Arroyo will play tomorrow, Saturday (7 p.m., La Romareda) in their last Cup final. And it will not be special just because it will be the last one in charge of Barça and Real Sociedad, respectively, also because of the long friendship that unites them. They met in the Catalan Federation (FCF), where they experienced many successes at the head of the lower categories, such as the under-16 championship that they won together in 2018, with a team in which two very young Bruna Vilamala and Jana Fernàndez, today in the first team of FC Barcelona. Promoters of Catalan football, these two coaches profess mutual admiration.

They share the same vision of the game and that is reflected in each of the duels in which they have faced each other: “We come from the same place, we have very similar tastes. We like to press high, have the initiative of the game and not speculate on the result,” Giráldez confesses to La Vanguardia. And it is not the only motivation they share. “We want football to be for the fans, for it to be a spectacle and to give people reasons to come every week to see us. In this we are very similar.”

Giráldez and Arroyo have lived parallel trajectories: a short career as footballers, their move to television as commentators, entry to the benches in the Catalan Federation and, finally, the jump to professional football. Things of fate, both gave it the same year, the summer of 2021. Giráldez, replacing Lluís Cortés at Barça and Natalia Arroyo at Real. The Catalan was even one of the candidates to succeed the Vigo player next season, as she herself acknowledged on Cadena Ser: “I spoke with Marc Vivés that I could be one of the options, although we understood that the one with the most strength was the continuity. I was a script twist,” she explained.

Natalia Arroyo’s Real Sociedad has been one of the teams that has put Barça in the most trouble in recent years. The Catalan coach has praised Giráldez’s great work leading the Blaugrana team on more than one occasion, but the recognition is mutual. We asked the Galician coach what Arroyo has contributed to Real Sociedad and he does not hesitate for a second: “Identity.” “When you watch a Real game you see a recognizable team. You know that there are some basic pillars that are not going to be broken, that the priority will be to take care of the ball, press high….”

These two young coaches have a very close bond: “We have a friendship that goes beyond the professional. She is a person who has helped me a lot, she gave my name to work as a commentator at Mediapro, she trusted me to work as an assistant with her at the Catalan Federation… and everything that has happened to me afterwards has been thanks to the fact that Natalia has trusted me. “In many moments, I will always be grateful to him,” confesses Giráldez.

The Barça coach admires Arroyo’s “ability to explain things,” her best virtue: “She has a speech and an ability to convince that makes her special.” Furthermore, he considers that he “smells people very well.”

While Giráldez was training in the Catalan Federation, he also closely followed Pep Guardiola, his reference on the bench: “For me he is the best coach there is. There is no one who comes close to him. I try to watch as many games as possible to decipher and understand the things he does and be able to learn from him and continue growing as a professional.”

Tomorrow will be a day of emotions for Giráldez, who looks back and sees the entire path they have traveled to where they are: “I am especially excited because you see that those of us who were in the FCF at that time, players, staff… have been growing professionally. and now they are recognized people.”

He is not superstitious, but tomorrow he will play in the final with an amulet: “A few days before the second leg against Chelsea it was Father’s Day and my partner gave me a bracelet on behalf of my son, who is 11 months old. He gave me luck in the semi-final and I will certainly carry it in the two remaining finals.”