Mirandés grab the Copa del Rey headlines once again
"Push forward with verve and daring, overpower the opposition with the force of a hurricane..." Those are the words of Mirandés' club anthem, and the second-tier side have done just that - once again. They had already dumped three top-flight sides out of the Copa del Rey in 2011/12 (Villarreal, Racing Santander and Espanyol), when it was still all two-legged ties, by the way. It wasn't until the semi-finals, against Athletic Bilbao, that they finally succumbed. That team's star was Pablo Infante. A bank clerk who didn't get the breaks as a footballer, he spent years toiling on the rough, either frozen or sodden lower-league pitches of the north - but, as captain, he got to lay flowers at Pichichi's bust at San Mamés.
Mirandés underline success of new Copa format
That Mirandés side, who were then in Segunda B (they got promoted to Segunda the same year), became national news. Now they've taken the Copa headlines again, joining seven Primera clubs in the quarter-finals. Just as in 2012, Anduva was absolutely jumping last night as Andoni Iraola's men beat Sevilla 3-1, a week after stunning Celta Vigo. This new Copa format, whereby the lower-ranked team plays at home in a single-match tie, also saw Athletic and Valencia taken all the way to penalties in Tenerife and León. None of the big boys are safe; the underdogs know that if they stick their neck out and go for it, they might just get their reward.
Last night's Pablo Infante was Matheus Aias, a 23-year-old Brazilian on loan at Mirandés from Watford. He scored the first two goals, and his frightening pace was a headache for Sevilla throughout. Together with Matheus, goalkeeper Limones also deserves real praise - as, let's be honest, does the whole team. They followed their club anthem to the letter. Now they go into the last-eight hat, where there's the prospect of meeting Real Madrid and Barcelona, a draw every cup minnow dreams of. And if it's someone else, Mirandés can be sure they won't be much better than Sevilla, so who knows: maybe one of the big two will be coming to town in the semi-finals instead. No fanbase will have woken up in a better mood today.
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