Both Barcelona and Real Madrid had tricky quarterfinal games in Copa del Rey, but I don’t think anyone expected to see both giants knocked out.
And yet, Barcelona lost right at the death after a dramatic Sergio Busquests own goal, while Real Madrid conceded four times for the first under Zidane against Real Sociedad at home and is out too.
On top of that, the audacious Mirandes eliminated a third La Liga opponent in a row to reach the last 4 of the tournament. The team will face Real Sociedad in the next round, while Granada and Athletic Bilbao will have to decide the other finalist.
It’s time to share my thoughts and predictions on the Copa del Rey winner market, as I feel the tournament is wide open right now.
Before I start, let me remind you that semifinals of Copa del Rey feature two legs, unlike the rounds up to this point who were played in one match.
It’s only natural for Real Sociedad to be the favorite of the bookmakers. This is probably the best team left in the tournament and it faces the weakest one in the semifinals, at least on paper.
For several months, it looked like Real might challenge for the Spanish La Liga Top 4 and a place in the Champions League next season. However, the team is too inconsistent at the back and many points were lost a result.
As it stands, I don’t think that Real Sociedad’s coach, players, and fans would think about anything else but the Spanish Cup. They have a great chance to win a trophy in the absence of Barcelona and Real Madrid, so I expect a lot from them.
On the negative side, the defense of the team can be a problem, even against Mirandes. The giant killers scored plenty of goals against elite opponents already, so any mistake will be punished.
The situation of Athletic Bilbao is quite similar. The club is out of the Champions League race in La Liga, so Copa del Rey will be a priority. The next opponent is Granada and the Basque team is the slight favorite in this clash.
The big difference to Real Sociedad is that Atheltic Bilbao has a strong defense, but can’t score too many goals. We saw how the back line held Barcelona last night, but it took a somewhat freaky own goal for the team to find the net and go through.
This could be a problem in the next couple of matches.
The third elite team left in Copa del Rey’s semifinals is Granada. Funny enough, the side is also in the middle of the table in the league and will focus solely on the Cup. The relegation zone is way behind Granada and there are too many teams between them and the Europa League spots too.
Essentially, Granada has the unique chance for a trophy and nothing else to play for by the end of the season. I’m sure that the whole club is thinking about Cope del Rey right now.
The position of an outsider could be a blessing in disguise, as there’s no pressure whatsoever on Granada to perform.
The team struggles defensively which will be a problem, but the attack has been decent this season.
I’ve watched the last two Copa del Rey games of Mirandes and I honestly can say I love this team! The side is bold and doesn’t care how strong the opponent is. The players are pushing for goals instead of wasting time at the end of the matches and they have scored a total of nine times against three La Liga opponents.
It has been a joy to watch and there’s little doubt that Mirandes is going to give everything in the remaining games.
If this team reaches the final of Copa del Rey, I wouldn’t dare to bet against it. The bigger issue is the format of the semifinals. In all three victories against top-tier opposition so far, Mirandes was playing at home.
The team now will have to travel to Sociedad for the first leg and Real will have the chance to take the advantage at home soil.
This could be a problem because Mirandes is predominantly a counterattacking team and if the side goes behind, the fairytale might be over.
Copa del Rey Winner Prediction
I can’t lie, my heart says Mirandes and I would love to see the club lifting the trophy at the end. And yet, I believe the logical choice here would be to back Athletic Bilbao.
The side has the best defense of the teams left in the competition and this matters a lot, especially in the semifinal. The two-leg format gives them an advantage and let’s not forget that Athletic Bilbao is the second most successful club in Copa del Rey if we exclude Barcelona.
It might time for the Spanish Cup to return to Bilbao.