Copa del Rey, Quarterfinals: The pressure is firmly on Real Madrid's shoulders

Denis Doyle

Several interesting match-ups await as the Copa del Rey rumbles on in to the quarterfinal rounds. Madrid are under pressure to advance against Valencia which could set-up as semifinal meeting with Barcelona

It's a busy time in Spain as both league and cup matches are rolling along simultaneously. While the players will have to deal with the extra travel and playing time, we the fans will get to feast at the smorgasbord of soccer presented to us. This week it's the Copa del Rey quarterfinal first legs and we've got some interesting match-ups to look forward too.

Real Madrid and Valencia are first up in a that could very well come down to just how much Madrid want to be in this tournament. With their chances of winning the league all but done and dusted, Jose Mourinho's men have two potential trophies to play with this competition and the Champions League. Given their struggles in the league, the fans will likely expect their side to not only win this tie but win this cup.

Madrid's depth is already being pushed by injuries and suspensions so it'll be interesting to see what kind of lineup we see. Cristiano Ronaldo and Antonio Adan will be available after serving their suspensions over the weekend, but Sergio Ramos and Marcelo remain out. Valencia will be without their captain David Albelda who is dealing with a calf problem. Valencia have to like their chances of knocking out Los Blancos.

Barcelona tend to utilize a rotated lineup in the Copa del Rey but that hardly means a weaker side. Facing Malaga is a tough ask for the Catalan club despite the fact they dispatched them with ease on the weekend. Much like Madrid, this tie could come down to lineups and how focused Tito Vilanova chooses to be on the cup.

Lurking at the end of all this is the possibility of another round of El Clasico matches in the semifinal should both Barcelona and Real Madrid advance.

Real Zaragoza and Sevilla are both sitting mid-table in the league neither in the European spot race or in the relegation battle. Either of their circumstances could change but one of these sides will move on the semifinals and closer to a chance at glory. Neither side was expected to be here so some of the pressure should be off.

In the final quarterfinal Atletico Madrid faces off against Real Betis in a battle of second versus fourth in the league. Both sides still have work to do to secure their spots and Atleti have the Europa League, but being on the opposite side of the bracket from Barca and Madrid means the winner should have a great shot of making the final.

Schedule (Day/Time - ET)

Real Madrid vs. Valencia - Tuesday, 3:00pm ET

Real Zaragoza vs. Sevilla FC - Wednesday, 1:30pm ET

Barcelona vs. Malaga - Wednesday, 3:30pm ET

Atletico Madrid vs. Real Betis - Thursday, 4:00pm ET

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