The King’s Cup puts the wounds of Madrid and Barcelona in front of a risky test
Real Madrid will seek to erase memories of one of its most humiliating defeats in recent years when it meets Alquiano of the third division for the second year in a row in the round of 32 of the King’s Cup on Wednesday.
Twelve months after Real’s 2-1 defeat against the unknown, modest-budget team from a small town near Alicante, the team will return to the Alquiano stadium, which will be filled to the brim with 4,850 spectators.
Last year, the authorities prevented fans from attending Alquiano’s victory due to restrictions to contain the Corona epidemic.
“If we do it this time, we can do it again,” Alquiano captain Julie Cerda told a news conference. “We know that we will face Real, who feel a deep wound to their dignity. Perhaps Real have learned the lesson, but this time our fans will be there and Real will face a completely different atmosphere.”
Coach Carlo Ancelotti did not finish selecting the final squad for the match after confirming that Vinicius Junior, Ferland Mendy, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema will not go to the match.
Barcelona, the defending champion, will move to Andalusia to face another third-tier team, Linares Deportivo.
Coach Xavi Hernandez’s team beat Mallorca 1-0 last Sunday, despite the absence of 14 players due to Covid-19, injuries and suspension, and he will have to rely again on a weak squad to revive his chances of defending the title.
Xavi had hoped for Pedri’s return after a long absence due to injury, but this hope faded after the 19-year-old midfielder was infected with Covid-19.
“We will face a complicated task by playing in a small stadium and in a match where the loser will be eliminated from the competition,” Xavi told a news conference. “Every year, first-class teams leave the competition, and we must be careful. We are the champions and we must repeat this achievement.”
And on Thursday, Atletico will face its neighbor Rayo Majadahonda, belonging to the third division, at its Wanda Metropolitano stadium, which has a capacity of 68,000 spectators.
However, Majadahonda asked the Spanish Football Federation to move the match to a larger stadium because it usually hosts its matches at Atlético’s 3,500-seater training ground.
The current regulations in Spain stipulate that stadiums with a capacity of more than 5,000 spectators must receive only 75% of the total capacity to limit the spread of Corona.