By Fernando Kallas
MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid will be eager to bury the memories of one of their most embarrassing defeats in recent years to Third Division Alcoyano for the second year in a row in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey Wednesday.
Twelve months after being humiliated 2-1 by the low-budget side from a small town near Alicante, Real will return to El Collao stadium for a second leg to be played in front of a packed house of 4,850 fans. . Last year, fans were unable to witness Alcoyano’s deadly victory due to restrictions that were in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“If we’ve done it once, we can do it again,” Alcoyano captain Juli Cerda said at a press conference.
âWe know we’ll see a Real with hurt feelings and there won’t be a surprise factor like last year. They’ve probably learned their lesson, but this time we’ll have our fans and they’ll face a completely different environment.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s final roster has yet to be decided after confirming that Vinicius Jr, Ferland Mendy, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema will not make the trip to the south.
The Barcelona champions will travel to Andalusia to face another third-tier side, Linares Deportivo.
Xavi Hernandez’s side beat Mallorca 1-0 on Sunday despite missing 14 players due to COVID-19, injuries and suspensions – and he will again have to rely on an exhausted squad to keep the defense alive. his title.
Xavi had hoped Pedri would be able to make a comeback after a lengthy injury layoff, but those plans had to be frozen after the 19-year-old midfielder tested positive for COVID-19.
He is the 14th Barcelona player to test positive in recent days.
“It’s a complicated task to go to a small stadium, to a one-game playoff game,” Xavi said at a press conference. âEvery year we see top tier teams being eliminated. We have to be careful. We are the champions and want to repeat.
Atletico will take on third-row neighbors Rayo Majadahonda on Thursday at their own 68,000-seat Wanda Metropolitano stadium, even though they had been selected to play away.
However, Majadahonda has asked the Spanish Federation to change the game to a bigger arena as they typically host their matches at Atletico’s training facilities, which have a capacity of around 3,500 people.
Current Spanish regulations state that sites with more than 5,000 places can only be filled to 75% in order to control the spread of COVID-19.
(Report by Fernando Kallas, edited by Pritha Sarkar)