The Copa del Rey is back with another dramatic game in Tenerife to open the Round of 16 with Athletic progressing as local supporters showed an admirable display of support for Iñaki Williams following the striker suffering racist abuse last weekend. Tonight's key game of the five fixtures will be held at La Romareda in Zaragoza. The Aragon based side are looking good for a top flight return after meandering in the second tier for the past seven years. Víctor Fernández's side face leaders Cadiz next weekend and despite the fact that the coach has only confirmed four regular starters in his squad for the cup tie, the level of anticipation within the city is tremendous. The bulk of Zaragoza fans look on with respect and admire the Spanish Cup, mainly thanks to success in the competition in the distant and not too distant past. Facing Real Madrid is an added incentive with the absences of regular duels between both sides adding to the intrigue.
Zaragoza bogey team
Many in the city remember well the 6-1 cup win over Madrid with Diego Milito bagging four goals on the night and the older generation fondly recall a 4-0 win over a Real Madrid side featuring the likes of Di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento, also in the Copa del Rey. The memory of the 2004 final win over a 'Galactico' powered Madrid in Montjuïc is also a vivid memory with Galletti's winner heralding the beginning of the end of Florentino Perez's first spell in charge of the club. Tonight's Zaragoza side will feature many of the same players who eliminated top flight Mallorca in the previous round and with strength throughout Fernandez's squad, Madrid will face a competent and combative side. Zidane too will rotate his squad with one eye focused on the imminent Madrid derby at home to Atleti on Sunday. Having said that, there is an appetite for Real Madrid to progress in the tournament.
Copa del Rey hoodoo
The Copa for some reason has always been something of an Achilles heel for Real Madrid and the team has had a tendency over the years to slip up in these knockout fixtures. Look at the curious case of Di Stéfano, he was with the club for 11 years and in that time won, eight leagues, five European Cups and only tasted Copa del Rey success on one occasion. Real Madrid's current coach Zinedine Zidane has bagged four Champions Leagues with the club, three as manager and one as a player, but again, the Frenchman has never secured the Copa del Rey. This is something the head coach will be anxious to address this season with the cup offering the ability to keep 'the season alive' should they slip up in the Champions League as Madrid face Manchester City in the Round of 16. The stage is set in Zaragoza for a highly attractive match which is destined to provide plenty of emotion and verve, a genuine cup tie.