Copa Del Rey 2014: Keys to Victory in Remaining Quarterfinal Matchups

Jason PettigroveContributor IJanuary 22, 2014

Diego Costa and David Villa are the key to Atletico Madrid's grip on the Copa Del Rey trophy
Diego Costa and David Villa are the key to Atletico Madrid's grip on the Copa Del Rey trophyDenis Doyle/Getty Images

Spain's Copa Del Rey continues apace.

No sooner has the last round finished then we are plunged head first into the quarterfinals just a week later.

Real Madrid have already put themselves in the box seat in their tie against Espanyol.

Despite only taking a slender lead back to the Santiago Bernabeu, the Catalans have not beaten Real on their own patch for over a decade.

Tonight Barcelona will travel back to Levante just three days after facing them in La Liga. After a record 7-0 opening day win at Camp Nou, the Blaugrana were brought crashing down to earth as they laboured to a score draw (1-1) on Sunday.

Lionel Messi has yet to score in the league since his return from injury, but has had no problem finding the net in the cup. Although the Argentine was kept quiet on Sunday, he will be the difference this time.

Levante's tactics at the weekend were understandable, but it made for terrible viewing. If they attempt to throw 10 men behind the ball again, it should precipitate their exit from the competition.

Tata Martino has often been lauded as a solutions man, and whilst he was culpable for the result on Sunday via his team and tactical selections, he is unlikely to make the same mistakes again.

Racing Santander have brought a touch of old school romance back to the cup. Now playing in Spain's Segunda Division B, they are the only team from the third tier left in the competition.

However this is where their journey is likely to end. Real Sociedad have continued to play some sparkling football this year.

Central to their successes has been the continued excellence of much-in-demand Antoine Griezmann and ex-Arsenal man Carlos Vela.

With 21 goals between them, they are likely to prove a handful for Santander's ageing back line, but their game is about so much more than goals. 

Griezmann's ability to switch inside and open up the channels will drag defenders out of position, creating multiple chances for Vela et al.

It's inconceivable that all will be squandered.

Paco Fernadez's men head to the Anoeta Stadium with no fears, having led the table for much of the season, but this tie is a bridge too far for them.

The most mouth-watering tie takes place on Thursday at the Vicente Calderon.

Diego Simeone's cup holders Atletico Madrid will be looking to continue their good form against Athletic Bilbao and go into the second leg at the new San Mames with both hands still on the trophy.

Diego Costa remains the danger man, his form this season exemplary.

His link-up play with David Villa throughout this campaign has been one of the main reasons why Simeone's men find themselves riding high in La Liga.

Both were on target in the league game between the two sides and their exceptional form shows no signs of abating.

A rock solid back up of Koke, Juanfran and Miranda et al should see Bilbao's excursions into the opposition area at a minimum.

Of course, Bilbao's attacking quartet might well have a say in the match.

Iker Muniain, Ander Herrera, Markel Susaeta and Aritz Aduriz have been in good form themselves for much of the campaign and the Basques will want to put on a better showing than the 2-0 reverse to Atleti back in November.