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Sevilla, Levante, Barcelona, Athletic… the Copa del Rey

Sevilla on Tuesday, Levante and Barcelona on Wednesday, Athletic last night. The semi-finalists of Spain’s Copa del Rey, who go into the draw today. The winners of outstanding quarter-finals, which left us all drained from the excitement. Sevilla and Athletic weren’t as stunning as in their previous matches, but their games came alive at the end, with Athletic just sneaking into extra-time in the 94th. A stunning header from Raúl García, a veteran player who deserves more than just a footnote in the history books of Spanish football. A tenacious, committed, tireless player, with an eye for goal, who finished off his night with a penalty à la Panenka.

Athletic could be in two Copa del Rey finals in a year

These are happy days for Athletic, holders of the Super Copa, semi-finalists in the Copa, and still with the final from the previous edition to be played, against Real Sociedad on 3 April. It won’t be with fans - they couldn’t delay it any more - so we have a year with two finals. Who knows if Athletic will be in both. The line up for the semis is a treat, despite the absence of the two big Madrid sides. Three major names, plus Levante, who have never gone so far. La Copa loves surprises, and this edition has had them in spades. Now it’s Levante’s turn to take advantage.

A boost for Barcelona

But the biggest news of the quarter-final was without doubt the way in which Barcelona qualified. They hadn’t produced a major performance all season and on Wednesday night they did something rather special, based on skill and passion. It was a good day for the conductor, Koeman, and for Griezmann, the star who has been doubted since he arrived. But on Wednesday it was all for one and one for all, and even the mistakes in the defence, of which there were several, ended up being good for the team, because by making things so difficult for the team to then overcome the situation means it truly feels like a turning point. A 3-5 win in Granada gives Barcelona the sense of composure they’ve been lacking, and a boost to face the rest of the season with their faith restored.