Atlético to meet Barcelona in Copa del Rey semi-final

Blaugrana stand in the way of Atleti and a cup final against Celta or Alavés

Atlético Madrid will play against Barcelona in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey, after the two teams were drawn against each other this afternoon.

The first leg will take place at the Vicente Calderón next Wednesday 1st February, with the return at the Camp Nou the following Tuesday 7th February.

Diego Simeone and Luis Enrique’s eyes will have lit up when Real Madrid were knocked out of the competition by Celta on Wednesday night, but only one of them will make it through to the final.

Celta, who knocked out Atleti at same stage season, take on Alavés in the other semi and will be favoured to make it through to the final.

However, Barcelona will now be the strong favourites to win the competition, especially given that the red and whites have to travel to Catalonia for the second leg.

They came past Real Sociedad in the quarter-final, having beaten Athletic Bilbao and Hércules in the previous rounds. Atleti on the other hand have overcome Guijuelo, Las Palmas and Eibar.

With both teams languishing a little in the league, compared to their high standards at least, the Copa will represent a realistic and attractive chance at some silverware this season.

Since Simeone took charge, Atleti have played three knock-out ties against Barça, winning in the Champions League in 2013-14 and 2015-16, but losing in the Copa del Rey in 2014-15.

Back in September, a goal from Ángel Correa earned a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou, although Messi and co. won both league meetings last season.

We can expect a competitive tie between two of European football’s strongest and most contrasting sides.

Semi-final draw
Atlético vs. Barcelona
Celta vs. Alavés

  • Koke

    I think we should focus on finishing 3rd or 4th in the league (bigger upsets have happened before, but I can’t see us winning it this year at all). And then we should really, really, focus on winning the Copa. If we get past Barca we’re in a very good position.

    However, we’re in the most concerning form of our recent history. Attack, midfield, defense is all off form. If we routinely concede against midtable teams now, I can’t imagine what Barca could do to us. They’re midfield is pretty average though and I think if we can bully their weak links (Gomes, Roberto, Alba, Goalie) then we can do well. Somehow this team seems to do better against big teams than small ones, especially Barca.

  • Grand General

    At the second leg we should start with this XI.


  • Grand General

    At the first leg we should start with this XI.


  • Nick Lawley

    Agree on all fronts.

  • Hannu

    I was thinking that has there been some big mistakes in preseason in training, physios etc because almost everybody is off form. Or is it just mental but they seem burnt out..

    Anyway finishing third or at least fourth should be ofcourse out main priority.

  • Koke

    Yes, something’s definitely been off lately, but seems like nobody can figure it out. A year ago, Filipe, Juanfran, Godin, Savic, Gimenez, Gabi, Koke, were more or less some of the world’s best players in their positions. Now they’re routinely sub par, some of them even seem like liabilities in some games. Simeone seemed like the world’s ballsiest man, and our team, no matter how shit we played, played with heart. There was no such thing as conceding 2 goals in the last 10 minutes – we would barely concede 2 goals in 5 whole games at some points. Something’s wrong and anyone who denies it must be living in an alternate reality. I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a problem that won’t resolve itself with time, because every team has cycles, even Madrid just went 40 games unbeaten and has struggled for like 4 games straight now. But we are not the same team now as we were earlier this season. Maybe the second CL final loss took something out of them?

    I think it’d be really hard to displace Barca, Madrid, and Sevilla from the top 3. Partially because of their advantage and partially because there’s no evidence that we’re making drastic improvements and won’t drop more points. That being said, I think Madrid will hit a long term slump and lose a lot of points. I think Sevilla will do very well this season, because they have that exact same character we’ve been lacking. Barca is a mystery because when they play like shit they can often still win somehow and when they play their best they’re unstoppable. Anyway if we can get 4th place it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but if we miss the CL next year it WILL be the worst thing in the world.

  • Grand General

    Saul Niguez, Fernando Torres and Stefan Savic must be permanently benched for the rest of the season. Only 2 CMs on the pitch at any given time.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I would’t use the term “seems to”, but we definitely do better against big teams than small ones, and it has been going on for a long time, since the start of 2014/15, both in La Liga and in UCL, Barca has become an easier opponent than Espanyol, and Bayern has become an easier opponent than Bayer. And with Simeone’s style of play and way of thinking, it actually makes a perfect sense.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    After the changes in the UCL playoffs draw that have been introduced 4 or 5 years ago where 4th of La Liga could get 4th of EPL or Bundesliga or 3rd of Serie A, or if they are lucky: 3rd of French or Portuguese leagues, if we finished 4th, it will be a very long summer for me, after what we did against Bayer & PSV, I think if we got any team from top 5 leagues it will be a 50/50 tie.

    Madrid and Barca can struggle, play poorly, but still win.
    Sevilla are doing well, we are not so much, but again, I want everybody to not forget the SCHEDULE.
    Except the Bernabeu -where we won in La Liga for the last 3 seasons- we’ve visited all the toughest stadiums in La Liga, except Real Madrid, ALL our games against the top 8 were away. Simeone committed horrible and repeated mistakes -in my opinion- but he also had a very tough schedule, I can’t remember we had one like that under him before.
    On the other hand, Sevilla will have to visit the Calderon, Mestalla (still a tough stadium for big teams no matter what), Camp Nou, the Bernabeu, and they have a derby at Villamarin.

    We can catch up with Sevilla, especially when the CL is back, and we really need to work very hard to avoid the 4th place, and to do that, I think Cholo needs to be more Cholo, he needs to stop playing it safe, he should have learned by now that playing it safe has hurt us more than benefited us.

    Our Egypt national team is playing “the Simeone way” with Hector Cuper, and we are doing very well for a year and a half now, while Simeone himself is not playing the “Simeone way”. I’ve talked about that in some Arabic websites when some Egyptians compared Cuper to Simeone in reply to many others who are angry at Cuper’s style of play, and I said they are not alike, and that I support Cuper but I’m against Simeone, I explained why in long details, I can’t repeat it again right now, especially that many of you don’t know most of our players, but in short:

    Cuper is playing with many skillful and creative attacking players and giving them strict defensive roles, while Simeone of the last two years is doing the opposite!!

  • Grand General

    What did you think about my starting XI against Barca?

  • Vagabond Messi

    Not a bad draw, i think we should rest our main players. This january has been good so far for me as a sport fan , i’m delighted to see revival of Rafael Nadal , I hope he wins against Federer in final, Federer will be big favourite in this match. Finger crossed.

  • Vagabond Messi

    It doesn’t work that way, in cl qualifiers seeded team play unseeded teams and most of pl tesms are seeded. Well if we can’t beat teams from Russia, Belgium etc then we have no right to be in CL in first place. Hey Ahmad , your team does so well in AfCons and have been champions for many times, what goes wrong for them in Wc qualifiers? Can you shed some light on it?

  • Usavicente Calderon

    This is fine, but it would have been better to meet them in the final.

  • AndersAT

    I would have preferred Barca over one leg (final) and Celta over two legs. But you can’t always get what you want. We had to beat Barca anyway, so we might as well get it over with.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Platini made a change some years ago, the system now is two paths: champions path and non-champions path.
    Teams in champions path are the teams who won their domestic leagues but they didn’t qualify directly to the group stage, Mr. Platini made them play against each other to give them bigger chances. (I’m strongly against that).
    While teams in non-champions path are the teams from high ranking leagues that get several seats in UCL, teams who clinch the last spot in those leagues play against each others.

    About the “seeding”, I think English speaking people use that term wrong, for them it’s either seeded or unseeded, even if we are -for example- going to make a draw for 8 groups of 4 teams each, they say: those 8 teams are seeded, while here in the Arab world we say: those 8 are seeded in first rank, and those 8 in second, and those 8 in third and those 8 in fourth. Or they use the term “Pot”, Pot 1, Pot 2, Pot 3 & Pot 4.
    I felt I have to say this because this “seeding” term always made me confused.
    However, in UCL playoffs, “seeded” and “unseeded” does work, because there are only two pots.

    But you are still wrong, teams from top 5 leagues can play each others, it happened many times over the previous seasons, here are some examples:
    This season: Villarreal vs Monaco & Porto vs Roma.
    Last season: Valencia vs Monaco & Lazio vs Leverkusen.
    2014/15 : Napoli vs Athletic & Porto vs Lille.
    Because of this “non-champions path”, only one Italian side made it to the group stage through the playoffs in the last 7 seasons.

    We could get one of those teams above, and they could knock us out, and we also could get an EPL side, Man Utd are 19th right now in UEFA ranking, while Spurs are 20th, and if one of them finished fourth they could be in Pot 2 or “unseeded” while we obviously will be seeded since we are ranked 4th.
    Even a Russian or Belgian side or a Dutch one like PSV could put us in a big trouble.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Why does Egypt do well in AFCON but not in WC qualifiers?!
    For all Egyptians, this is a big mystery, this is a million dollar question, but for me, it’s actually very simple.

    “Pundits” and “Experts” tried to find an explanation, and the only thing they could come up with was that AFCON is played over one month in one country, while WC qualifiers are played over two years, home and away, and the pitches in Africa are bad so is the weather, and I think this is bullshit.

    For me, the answer is two words : Mahmoud El Gohary.

    Africa had half a seat in the World Cup until 1962, one seat from 1966 until 1978, two seats from 1982 until 1990, three in 1994 and five since 1998. Also, in the fifties, sixties and seventies, Egypt was involved in several wars, so it was normal to not qualify to the WC and win AFCON only once in that era, in 1986, at home.
    But since the nineties, we really should have qualified several times to the WC, but we didn’t, because the “legendary” El Gohary lead us in 4 consecutive WC qualifications: 90, 94, 98 & 2002, he succeeded in 1990 and failed in all the other 3.

    The man was so defensive that he would make Simeone look like Pep or Klopp!! especially when we played away, the man played 13 away games in those 4 qualifiers, drew in 7, lost 4 and won only 2, sometimes I felt that he wasn’t aware that the rule has changed and the win was worth 3 points instead of 2 so his “draw away and win at home” philosophy doesn’t mathematically guarantee you the first place in the group and the qualification.

    After that there were only three other qualifiers :
    In 2006 we were at the beginning of building a new generation, we had Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire in the group and we had a fucking bad coach, Marco Tardelli, who wasn’t just poor, but he was a fraud, he used to spend most of his time in Italy and come to Egypt few days before the games.
    He was sacked in the middle of the qualifications and was replace by the TRUE legend, Hassan Shehata, who tried to fix what Tardelli did but it was too late.

    In 2010, under Shehata, we finished with 13 pts, same as Algeria, and the rules said the tie breaker is the head-to-head results, we lost 1-3 in Algeria and won 2-0 in Egypt, we should have qualified, but CAF said the away goal does not count as two, (then immediately after this qualifier they added that rule that they forgot to add before!!)
    We had to play a playoff game in Sudan, we had some injuries from the last game against Algeria in Cairo, plus Mubarak regime gave our tickets to celebrities and government officials and their families, they were very quiet, while Algeria fans were very loud and the players felt like they are playing at home.
    That year Nigeria qualified with 12 points, less than us!!!

    in 2014 it was 10 groups of 4 teams, with the 10 group winners play each others in 5 ties in the final stage, we won all our 6 games in the group, but then we got the worst possible opponent in the playoffs, Ghana, who should have reached WC semifinal 2010 had Asamoah Gyan scored that penalty against Uruguay. While our team was a mix of very old players and very young ones, our local league where most of our national teams players come from -unlike most of the other African teams- was canceled or wasn’t completed for couple of seasons after Port Said Massacre, we had no chance.
    But we shouldn’t have lost 6-1 though, that was unacceptable and I will never forgive Bob Bradley for it.

    I’m really not very upset about those last three qualifiers, but we should have qualified more than that only one time under El Gohary.
    I don’t think we have a problem or a “curse” with the World Cup, our problem was El Gohary, and he is dead now -may he rest in peace- and I believe we will reach the World Cup soon.

    Before I finish, I must mention another big problem:
    The system of African qualifiers, it’s usually a group of 4 teams where only the first who qualifies, which makes the margin of error so small, one defeat and one draw and you are out after only 2 games.
    Fucking stupid CAF.

    I also have to mention that the World Cup is every 4 years while AFCON is every 2 years, another reason for why Egypt has 7 AFCON titles and only 2 WC participations.

    I wish I was helpful enough, and I’m sorry for the other readers for this long non-Atleti related comment, but the man asked me a question and I had to answer.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I’m a huge Federer fan, but I think Nadal is the favorite and I wished he didn’t reach the final, Federer always suffers against him, it seams a psychological thing to me.
    I wish Roger reaches 20 Grand Slam titles before he retires.

    This January we also had the handball world cup, where Egypt is always there, unlike in football.
    Handball is the best team sport in Egypt, we win the African Cup, always in the world cup, usually in advanced stages, and our best is the semifinal in 1999.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Yes, top teams can still play but look at cl play off , Only non seeded big team was AS Monacco in these last 2 years(Valencia vs Monaco and Villareal vs Monaco) Roma vs Porto was also a semi big match, but if you closely look at the cl playoff , you’ll see most of big teams playing small teams, we’ll get 2nd placed team from Netherland, 3 rd placed from Porto,Russia , 1st place from Belgium, sweden etc. I think it’s not as tough, don’t worry we’ll make in to group stage should we finish first.

  • Vagabond Messi

    This Nadal is not old Nadal , he’s slow with weaker unreliable forehands. This year RLA court is faster with low bounce ,it helps Fed’s game. Their match up is more than Mental, Nadal is able to abuse Fed’s BH with high topspin BH . But this time Federer will avoid going for long rally with Nadal and kill points early with Serve and Volley. I won’t be able to watch it since i’ll be working , hoping for a cracking final.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Yeah you’re right. But we are a small team, this is why we will face a tough team.
    Platini said a year ago that we should gobble on deez nuts! ?

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    It is also because our players aren’t good enough. The Egyptian FA continues to favor players from Al Ahly when clearly other teams have better qualified. This deteriorated the quality in the league as they also are helped a lot by the media, ref and FA.