The draw for the latter rounds of the Copa del Rey was made today, setting up a potential semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Last year the two clubs met at the same stage with Barcelona progressing 4-3 on aggregate and the year before that the two met in the final. To find a season where the top two Spanish clubs didn’t meet in the domestic cup you have to go back to the season before (09/10) when neither team made the final and Madrid were wiped away 4-1 on aggregate by third-tier Alcorcon.
This year however Madrid begin with a Round of 32 tie against Alcoyano, a team from Valencia in the Segunda Division B (third tier). The second leg will be played at the Bernabeu at the end of November. Meanwhile Barcelona will contest Alaves home and away with the decisive second encounter at the Nou Camp. Alaves made the UEFA Cup Final in 2001 but have hit hard times recently, having been relegated to the Segunda B in 2009.
Other notable ties including teams in European action feature Valencia travelling to Llagostera, Eibar against Athletic Bilbao, Cacereno vesus Malaga, Jaen at home to Atletico Madrid and Levante going to Melilla. The reason that all teams who qualified for Europe getting easier ties is because of the way the draw works. These teams are separated from the rest and paired with the lowest ranked survivors from qualifying. In this way the advantage is handed to the stronger teams and gives the underdogs little hope.
However, last season we saw Mirandes of the third tier reach the semi-final against Bilbao and a couple of other shocks along the way. The only real shock this year though would be not having one of Real or Barca in the final again.
Jeremy Danford writes for a number of publications. Although La Liga is his favourite league he is an Aussie at heart and his number 1 pastime is playing pokies at Lucky Nugget and blogging about his experiences.
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