Madrid (Spain), Jan 17 (SocialNews.XYZ) The last 16 matches of the Spanish Copa del Rey knockout competition are played this week, with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both in action on Thursday night.
Newly-crowned Supercup winners Barcelona travel to face Ceuta. However, Barca should not get overconfident as Ceuta defeated top-flight opponents Elche in the last round, and the visit to the Spanish enclave on the coast of North Africa is not easy, involving a helicopter flight from Malaga.
Real Madrid hardly have time to lick their wounds and recover tired legs before they travel to Villarreal for what looks like the toughest tie of the round.
Villarreal beat Madrid 2-1 in La Liga less than a fortnight ago and have had more time to prepare for the match, while Real Madrid are likely to be without David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez, and players, such as Luka Modric, looked flat and tired in Riyadh.
The round kicks off on Tuesday, with Real Sociedad, whose morale is sky-high after beating neighbours Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at the weekend, entertaining Mallorca.
Wednesday sees the bulk of the matches, with Athletic Bilbao at home to an Espanyol side that won in Getafe on Sunday. Cup holders Betis, who were unlucky to lose to Barca on penalties in the Supercup semifinals, are at home to a rugged Osasuna and second-division Levante will test Atletico Madrid, who have Stefan Savic available to play in defense.
Finally, second-division Sporting Gijon will try and forget their league problems when they entertain Valencia. Valencia travel after losing the Supercup semifinal on penalties to Real Madrid in Riyadh, while Sporting have just sacked coach Abelardo Fernandez after a run of just one win in 12 games.