The world’s crappiest cup kicks off

The Big Boys of la Primera joining the Copa del Rey party can only mean one thing: La Liga Loca’s annual rant at how a tournament which could be as fun and frolicking as the FA Cup has been stripped of any potential drama. Again.

Despite constant complaints from players, press and fans, the Spanish FA has failed to change the format of the contest into something that might generate more than an inch of interest.

And if you think that the blog is being harsh, then wait for this week's attendance figures.

Instead, the organisation will be crossing its fingers and hoping that neither Athletic Bilbao nor Barcelona make the final again, after their naughty booing of the Spanish national anthem last season.

A first glance of the matches that are kicking off this week suggests there could be some tasty giant-killing treats on offer with last season’s top four teams having to dip their toffy tippy-toes into the cesspool that lies outside la Liga with four away legs against lower league opposition.

But that’s were the potential fun ends. Atlético, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla have been handed easier ties in the round of 32.

No, they really have - the Champions League teams are seeded.

What’s more, the ties are being held over two legs which significantly reduces the chances of a prime Primera side being knocked out - unless that side happens to be completely useless, like last year’s Real Madrid who managed to lose to the then Segunda B outfit Real Uníon.

The idea of the two-legged games is to help generate income for some of the poorer members of la Liga’s fraternity.

However, it doesn’t always work out that way with Atlético’s opponents, Marbella, expecting quite a few empty seats at their cup clash.

“We’d have preferred Real Madrid or Barcelona,” sniffed club VP Antonio Pérez Ramos.

However, the match does have some off-the-pitch interest, as Marbella - arguably Ground Zero for corruption in Spain - is the power base of the Gil family and the city from where funds were stolen to help pay for Atlético’s needs during the spell when Jesus Gil was both Marbella’s mayor and the rojiblanco president.

A recent news report on Spanish television showed that theft and embezzlement by local politicians in recent years has been so prevalent that there is barely a penny left in the kitty for potholes and primary schools.

La Liga Loca imagines that Atlético's current director general Miguel Angel Gil-Marín is sure to get the warmest of welcomes from the locals.

Real Madrid head to the delightful Madrid satellite town of Alcorcón - a stadium where La Liga Loca, co-commentating for TV, had to hide under a table during the match while a fight between some drunks broke out. At midday.

With a possible forward line of Karim Benzema and Rafael van der Vaart, Real Madrid would be expected to cruise this particular encounter.

But few may care, considering it takes place at 10pm - a huge help to anyone who may want to use public transport to get home after the game.

Sevilla travel to Atlético Ciudad, who come from Cartagena, apparently, while Barcelona face Cultural Leonesa. From Leon.

So expect ‘Kings of Leon’ headlines from Sport on Thursday if there is a significant thwacking of the locals.

There are a couple of all-Primera ties with Zaragoza against Málaga, Xerez hosting Osasuna and Getafe taking on Espanyol.

But perhaps the biggest losers of the lot are second division outfit Hercules, who will probably have to force their fans into the stadium at gunpoint to get them to watch the encounter with Almería. 

“I’d have liked another result from the draw as Almería is not great for the gate,” sighed Hercules president Valentín Botella, summing up the sensations felt in Spain at a somewhat crappy competition.

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