La Liga Copa Del Rey Draw: Results, Analysis and Predictions
Every season when the Copa del Rey draw is revealed, we fans and analysts think we have a good idea of how the tournament will play out.
First-division teams are almost always favored, the giants of Spain with the most depth should be the last teams standing, and one of the big two should lift the trophy.
Every season we are treated to surprises, whether it be a lower-division team making a deep run—like Mirandes last season—or a giant falling to a much weaker side—such as Real Madrid's loss to Alcorcon in 2009.
Of course, that chaos doesn't stop us from trying to predict the final result anyway.
But before I give you my thoughts on how I see the tournament playing out, let's review the draw itself.
Round of 32
Pictured above are the results of the Copa del Rey draw.
The first leg of the Round of 32 will be played on Oct. 1. The return leg is scheduled for Nov. 28.
Almeria vs. Celta Vigo
Alcoyano vs. Real Madrid
Sporting vs. Osasuna
Llagostera vs. Valencia
Alaves vs. Barcelona
Cordoba vs. Real Sociedad
Eibar vs. Athletic Bilbao
Cacereño vs. Malaga
Real Jaen vs. Atletico Madrid
Ponferradina vs. Getafe
Deportivo de la Coruña vs. Mallorca
Sevilla vs. Espanyol
Best Matches from First Round
While teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will be heavily favored in the first round, there are plenty of matchups that will be difficult to predict.
Here are the two biggest and best matches that fans could watch in the Round of 32.
Almeria vs. Celta
North vs. South. Aspas vs. Ulloa. This battle will be fun for Spanish football fans.
One of La Liga's newly promoted Galician sides will face one of Segunda B's two best clubs. The teams will have to travel completely across country which will surely take a toll on both sides.
Valladolid vs. Betis
This is my pick for best pairing of the round. I expect lots of goals and back-and-forth action.
These two sides are currently battling for a Europa League spot and have only played one bad match all season between the pair.
Talk about unlucky (or unfair?). Of all La Liga teams, Celta Vigo certainly drew the short straw in the Round of 32.
There were 12 lower-division teams that could have been drawn in the first round. Of those 12 teams, the one that every club wanted to avoid was Almeria, who currently sit in second place in Segunda.
Not only did newly promoted Celta draw the toughest team of that bunch, they were put in the toughest half of the bracket.
If the Galicians manage to beat Almeria over two legs, it is almost certain that the reigning league champs await them in the Round of 16.
If, by some miracle, Vigo pull off a miracle against Real Madrid, it is likely that Valencia and then either Barcelona or Malaga await them in the next two rounds.
At least Paco Herrera will have two matches to try some youth players out.
Most likely path needed to reach final
Diego Simeone might want to go ahead and book his flight to the semifinals. Atletico Madrid really couldn't have gotten an easier path to the Copa del Rey final.
They start off with Real Jaen from Spain's third division. After that they should not be seriously tested until the quarterfinals when they are likely to face either Betis or Valladolid.
The biggest threat would be in the semifinals where Sevilla have an equally favorable path. That match would surely be a blockbuster.
If Los Colchoneros do manage to make the final, no team in Spain would want to play them. Radamel Falcao is one of the greatest big-game players in football and is undefeated in final matches.
The Colombian striker has won two straight Europa League finals and the UEFA Super Cup almost single-handedly, totaling seven goals in those three matches.
Most likely path needed to reach final
Prediction for Semifinals
First half of bracket prediction: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona
For those of us who have grown a bit tired of multiple Clasicos every season, we could very well be in for another pair in the Copa del Rey.
Of course, both Barcelona and Real Madrid will have to be at their best to face each other in the semifinals.
Los Merengues will probably have to go through Valencia in the quarterfinals if they are going to have a chance at their rivals. As Los Che have shown over the last two seasons, there are few teams tougher to beat in all of Spain.
La Blaugrana have no easy path either. The Catalans will likely have to face either Athletic Bilbao or Malaga in the quarterfinals. The possession-based football of both teams will make for a very exciting but unpredictable matchup.
Second half of bracket prediction: Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla
I already showed how Atletico Madrid has one of the better draws of anyone, but they are not the only ones feeling a bit grateful.
Sevilla will almost certainly have to play all first-division teams en route to the semifinals, but they will still be favored in each round.
They will face either Depor or Mallorca first before moving on to Granada, Levante or possibly Zaragoza in the quarterfinals.
Prediction for Final
As I said in the intro, there is absolutely no way to predict an entire Copa del Rey tournament.
But when looking at the draw and seeing the paths that every team has to take to find glory, perhaps the most likely option is the biggest and most exciting match possible.
The Madrid Derby has been lopsided for many years now, but Diego Simeone is in the middle of turning Atletico back into a top club.
With superstars like Arda Turan and Radamel Falcao leading the charge, Los Colchoneros simply have to be the favorite to reach the final from their half of the bracket.
Real Madrid or Barcelona?
In the other half, assuming that another Clasico will be fought in the semifinals, the winner is unpredictable as always.
The winner of that tie would likely be the team that is most fit at the time. Right now Real Madrid are wrecked by injuries, with Barcelona not far behind.
It can be argued that La Blaugrana's concerns with Puyol and Pique are greater since the only serious worry for Madrid is Marcelo, and Fabio Coentrao can certainly fill that void.
Who wins and why?
There is just no way of knowing which Spanish giant will be more fit, how decided the league will be at this time and how alive both teams are in Europe.
All of those factors will play a big role, and right now it is a toss-up.
My only reasoning for picking Madrid over Barça is that no team has made three consecutive finals since the Catalans did it from 1996 to 1998.
Whichever team wins, neither will want to face Falcao and Atletico Madrid in an elimination match. That much is certain.
What are your predictions for the Copa del Rey? Whom do you expect to be in the final? Feel free to leave your comments below.