Why La Liga Is Infinitely Better Than The Copa Del Rey
The start of the annual Copa del Rey jamboree this Tuesday, should be a thing of celebration in Spain. After all, it’s the country’s only cup competition - unlike the greedy English game - and it’s the opportunity for minnows to match up to Madrid and back-alley outfits to beat Barça. The trouble is that the Spanish cup is met with almost complete indifference in Spain with fans, writers, players and managers largely united that it’s a complete waste of time and needs a seriously major overhaul, a message that’s repeated every blinking year but to deaf ears at the Spanish FA.
The Copa del Rey is such a waste of time and space that not even the FA in Spain take it that seriously.
1 - The draw for the third round of the FA Cup is genuinely exciting. Local club owners in their finest shiny suits huddled around their radios dreaming of a giant killing. After all, the tiniest team from Taunton can play the mightiest men from Manchester. Not in the Copa del Rey though. Oh no. Those sides playing in Europe are protected from facing anyone who might put up a challenge and will take on only the weakest outfits, usually from the third tier of Spanish football, which is light years away from League One in England in terms of quality. Hence this season, Barcelona are taking on Alavés, Valencia face Llagostera, Real Madrid tussle with Alcoyano and Atlético will be meeting up with Jaén.
2 - Of course, a tricky tie on a cold, rainy night somewhere on the north coast of Spain could cause a spot of bother for any Primera team, no matter how fancy-pants. Quite so. But in the Copa del Rey, the ties are played over two legs to give the big teams double the chance of going through. And to make sure that there isn’t any sneaky bus-parking at the Bernabeu ahead of a hot-tempered tie at the home of the smaller side, the big teams always, always, always play their away leg first in the last 32 stage.
Those sides playing in Europe are protected from facing anyone who might put up a challenge and will take on only the weakest outfits.
3 - So, the chances are the big two of the competition have made it through to the last 16 where the draw becomes open - a chance for a bit of drama guaranteed, surely? Nope. The Spanish FA have already made the draw all the way through to the final to remove any possible concept of excitement. Barcelona and Real Madrid, barring any shocks, are due to meet at the semi-final stages with the current holders set to face Alavés, Real Sociedad, Málaga and then their Clásico rivals. Madrid will probably have to overcome Celta Vigo, Valencia after Alcoyano on Wednesday night with the second leg at the end of November.
4 - The Copa del Rey is such a waste of time and space that not even the FA in Spain take it that seriously. This year, tradition has been broken with the organisation already naming a date for the final which is set to be the 18th of May. Last year, it took place on a Friday night in June, the day before Spain’s first warm-up game ahead of the European Championships, ensuring that Vicente del Bosque was without his Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao players for the match, as well as having his fingers crossed that there were no injuries to the likes of Andrés Iniesta. The game was played at the Vicente Calderón - after a huge squabble over the venue - on a pitch that was only five days old due to a Coldplay concert.
The Spanish FA have already made the draw all the way through to the final to remove any possible concept of excitement.
5- In recent years the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid have ruined the contest even further by trying to win. Before Mourinho and Pep Guardiola came along, neither side much cared. Before Madrid’s 2011 victory, the Bernabeu side hadn’t won the contest since 1993. Barcelona’s victory in 2009 was the Catalan team’s first victory in the cup for over a decade. Between 2000 and 2005 the Copa del Rey champions were Espanyol, Zaragoza, Deportivo, Mallorca, Zaragoza and Betis. The Super Power supremacy that will no doubt see either Barça or Madrid in the final has certainly put an end to that people power.
In the Copa del Rey, the ties are played over two legs to give the big teams double the chance of going through.
It’s true that giant killing can take place - just look at Alcorcón against Real Madrid three years ago - but it is a glitch in the system, a possibility that has come close to being ruled out except for the most incompetent of top tier clubs. The Copa del Rey could be as fantastic as the FA Cup, but the desire for smaller clubs to get their lucrative trip to the Camp Nou and the desire for the big teams to avoid embarrassment ensures that the Copa del Rey will always remain a little bit...well...crap.
Like this? Try these La Liga footballing stories
Click here for more articles about Football and Sport
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook