Joy in Melilla
There was nothing but joy in Melilla yesterday as UD Melilla hit the jackpot in the Copa del Rey draw. Melilla is a city hurt by constantly making the news over border conflicts; now it has the chance, if only for a few days, to appear and shine for happier reasons. Football doesn’t provide solutions, but it does bring joy, and that’s a good thing. Funnily enough, not long ago a group of us from AS, at one of our Encuentros con los Ases (an event with a panel of AS journalists), were discussing a feeling of abandonment and indifference suffered in Melilla, and now they are finally making the headlines for other reasons. After the ‘Alcorconazo’ – when Los Blancos lost 4-0 to Alcorcón a few years back – everyone is allowed to dream. The Copa del Rey draw is a unique day in the footballing calendar.
The draw has also been kind to Qatar-run la Cultural, Sant Andreu and CD Ebro. Cultural Leonesa will face Barça, who have strong connections to León, mainly through César, that León native who scored so many goals in a Barça shirt. The likeable Sant Andreu, meanwhile, where Serena and Martí Filosía both retired, dreamed of Barça or Betis, but will be more than happy drawing Atlético. And CD Ebro, who scooped fourth prize in being matched up with another Champions League team, Valencia, and will draw their biggest ever crowds at La Romareda.
But before all that, LaLiga returns this weekend, with tough tests awaiting the sides fighting it out at the top. Barça-Sevilla is one game which stands out - the Andalusian club, currently siting in second (and were top before Alavés beat Celta on Friday night), will face a Barça side with creeping doubts, not to mention the effects of Piqué’s wanderings on his team-mates. Before that, Atlético travel to Villarreal in an encounter with no shortage of spice given the recent clashes between the two. And before any of the above, Madrid host Levante in the locally known ‘aperitif match’ (at 13:00). At the moment Madrid are on edge, their jitters caused by an edgeless attack with no goals that has manifested in a crisis of confidence. However, Isco is back to save the day.