Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno
The top Spanish teams all have theoretically easy second- and third-division opponents in the Round of 32. But that doesn't mean that we won't see an upset--just say the word "Alcorcón" to a Real Madrid fan.
These early rounds of the Copa del Rey are not the most fun for fans of the top teams. As prohibitive favorites, they have nothing to gain and a lot to lose in their match ups--anything other than a sizable (we're talking 3+ goals) win would be something of a shock for Madrid, Barcelona, and company. The ironic thing about this unpleasant truth is that all these teams will start their own second- and third-string players against the minnows--and these mini versions of the larger sides might not be as highly favored. So they're actually caught in more of a bind: their canteranos will be expected to win by the same amount as their first-string sides, when they're actually a lot worse.
But I'm not in the mood to make the whiny case for why life is so hard for the huge teams with the massive budgets. I'm rooting straight underdog this round, and I don't care if that means we won't have as much fun in the final rounds: it means more to the small teams and their fanbases. If the Madrids and Barças of the world don't care enough about this competition to start their first-stringers until the last two rounds, then I will not dignify them with my interest.
All of this is a tangential way of saying that there aren't that many good games this week. There might be some exciting games...but none that anyone would go way out of their way to watch. I'll highlight a couple of them, but mostly I'm going to be watching the third-division sides and praying for another Alcorcón.
(Games to watch in bold).
Tuesday, November 27
Rayo Vallecano (0) vs. Las Palmas (1)
Osasuna (0) vs. Sporting (1)
Betis (0) vs. Valladolid (1)
R. Sociedad (0) vs. Córdoba (2)
Málaga (4) vs. Cacereño (3)
(Comment: this is going to be a fantastic game to watch. Last time, Cacereño was about as close as you can get to knocking off Málaga, and they're only a one-goal win away from advancing. I'm choosing this over Rayo-Las Palmas because I think it's going to be more fun, not because I think Cacereño has a shot at advancing like Las Palmas does).
R. Madrid (4) vs. Alcoyano (1)
Wednesday, November 28
Valencia (2) vs. Llagostera (0)
Levante (0) vs. Melilla (1)
(Comment: another to watch if you like surprises. Levante need to win by at least two to avoid penalties; Melilla needs to score once to make things really interesting).
Atlético (3) vs. Real Jaén (0)
Getafe (4) vs. Ponferradina (0)
Barcelona (3) vs. Alavés (0)
Thursday, November 29
Mallorca (1) vs. Deportivo (1)
Athletic (0) vs. Eibar (0)
(Comment: another surprise possible here. Eibar need to score to make things interesting, a goal-scoring draw would get them through).
Celta (0) vs. Almería (2)