Copa del Rey semi-finals without Madrid and Barcelona
The absence of Real Madrid and Barça in the Copa del Rey semi-finals may have dampened entusiasmam for some for with this new cup format, that said the format really isn't that novel as it was used at the beginning of the current century under Villar. The 2003 final which saw Mallorca face Recreativo Huelva in Elche was deemed by many to lack any perceived "glamour" and the format was amended until the recent arrival of new FA chief Luis Rubiales. Personally, I do like this format even if there is an absence of the 'big two' at this stage and agree wholeheartedly with my colleague Áxel Torres who recently advocated that this single game format leads to upsets and epitomises the 'magic of the cup'.
Both Madrid and Barça were eliminated for different reasons. The Catalan side didn't deserve to lose in Bilbao and were stung by a late Iñaki Williams header in added time. They fell to a late body blow in a game they dominated and could have enjoyed a comfortable path to a final berth. Real Madrid, meanwhile went into their game against Real Sociedad with what could be argued by many with a sense of over-confidence. Zidane fielded an experimental side when a rotation policy really wasn't necessary. The Cup was on Madrid's list of priorities but once again it is a competition that seems to slip by this historic club who have fielded weakened sides in the past in the ko competition.
Both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are at the summit of the LaLiga table as is the norm, so at least the organisers of next year's Spanish Super Cup can rest easy. The likes of Atlético, Sevilla and Valencia however are set to be absentees in 2021 from the Gulf and that's to take nothing away from the sides who will participate in the competition's Final Four after reaching the Seville April cup final. I'm sure that we'll get a fine final game from the four existing sides (Athletic, Granada, Real Sociedad and Mirandés) and this year's Copa del Rey final will throw up a winner from clubs who are simply unable to compete in a domestic league challenge but at the same time hold the dream that winning a major domestic honour can offer with the league a clear two-horse race.
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