Spain: Usual suspects through to the last eight
The Copa del Rey round of 16 has been completed on Thursday night and for the big names such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Villarreal CF, Deportivo La Coruña and Sevilla FC progress to the quarter-final has been assured. Last season’s finalists Atlético Madrid also went through eliminating Espanyol in the process. The shock of the round involved second division Real Betis eliminating top flight Getafe CF whilst UD Almeria also produced an upset when knocking out Real Mallorca, a team who lie ten places above them in the league.
Record cup holders FC Barcelona can consider themselves rather fortunate to get through to the next round following a tough two-legged tie against Athletic Bilbao. The Basque club, whose record in this competition is second only to the Catalans, were resolute in their first leg tie at the Camp Nou coming away with a 0-0 draw. The second leg remained at that score until the 75th minute when Barça’s Eric Abidal finally broke the deadlock only for Fernando Llorente to equalize five minutes before the end of the game to set up a grandstand finish. Barcelona manged to hold out and seal their place in the last eight where they will play Real Betis who caused the biggest upset in the round by knocking out Getafe CF. The Seville based team lost the first leg 2-1 but overturned the deficit in the return leg winning 3-1 on the night and going through 4-3 on aggregate.
Real Madrid were already assured of their place in the next round after their first leg 8-0 demolition of UD Levante. With such a healthy lead Los Blancos played a weakened side on Thursday and followed up with a second leg defeat, Levante winning 2-0 to restore some pride. The capital side prevailed with an 8-2 aggregate score and set up a mouth watering clash with local rivals Atlético Madrid who got the better of Espanyol going through with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline in a much tighter contest. Defending cup holders Sevilla FC still have dreams of consecutive titles following an easy 8-3 aggregate victory over Málaga CF which leaves the prospect of another classic tie to look forward to in the last eight against Villarreal CF. Following a goalless first leg, Valencia looked to be coasting into the next round when taking an early 2-0 lead but Villarreal came from behind to eventually put los Che out of the competition with a 4-2 win, Giuseppe Rossi bagging a brace for los Amarillos.
The final quarter-final match will see two-time winners Deportivo La Coruña take on UD Almeria. Deportivo were involved in a great match against second division Córdoba CF who thought they had sealed a dramatic aggregate win when going 1-0 up with four minutes remaining in the second leg. However Deportivo equalized through Adrián in the 90th minute to take the game into extra-time when the same player scored two further goals to help his side to a 4-2 aggregate win. UD Almeria, who are in 19th place in La Liga, got the better of Real Mallorca with a surprisingly comfortable 8-6 aggregate score.