The sports competition can be structured, basically, in two formats. The League, which was not the first to be put into practice, rewards the regularity in a journey all against all. But there is another older one based on direct duels in which only one wins until there is a winner. Thus the most lustrous tournaments, the World Cup or the Champions League, where the incoming of the previous liguillas give way to the KO, which is the sirloin, are elucidated in football. There, in what Brazil calls kill Kill, is the essence of competition, as in the oldest in the world, the English Cup, which builds a legend from the unexpected. In Spain its replica is a decaffeinated.
Copa del Rey
- – 85 teams started this season.
- – Seven eliminatory rounds (the first three to single game) and final. Second teams enter the second and those of First in the fourth, when there are only 32 teams left.
- – The calendar reserves 12 dates for Copa matches.
- FA Cup
- – It is played by 736 teams, although in 2009 the record of 762 was reached. In Spain it would be the equivalent of the first classified Preferent, the lower step of the Third Division.
- – There are thirteen playoffs to single and final match. The teams of third and fourth category (48 in total) are released in the seventh and those of the first two in the ninth, with 64 teams in play.
- – The calendar reserves 14 dates (all weekend) for the Cup, with the possibility of replays by draw.
At the beginning of the last decade, it was decreed that until the last 16 the Primera teams played two rounds to a single match in the field of lower category rivals. It happened that between 200 and 2006 the champions were Zaragoza (twice) Mallorca, Betis and Espanyol. And teams like Recreativo and Osasuna were finalists. Since 2007, all Primera teams play the Copa a vuelta y vuelta, with a net. Now the Spanish Football Federation is working on a plan so that in two or three years all the qualifiers will be a single match.
England is the reference. "It is a model that can be moved 100% to Spain", anticipates Quique de Lucas, who played the English Cup with Chelsea and lives in London, in charge of a football player representation and advice agency. And he says: "It's a matter of vision, will and courage."
The Cup has gained prestige and space in England because it levels the teams and gives everyone the same opportunities. It is democratic because it raffles the field where it is played, regardless of the category of the contenders, a detail in which Ernesto Valverde stopped when after Thursday's match against Levante he was asked about the federative intentions. "If it's done like that, it's worth it," said the Barcelona coach. In England the costs of arbitration and the box office are distributed, so that sometimes the modest ones are torn between the desire to play as locals for the sporting expectation or as visitors for the economic prize and the pleasure of visiting a great stadium. It happened to Lincoln two years ago, the first non-professional team to play the quarterfinals in the FA Cup since 1914. He fell in the Emirates against Arsenal. That journey brought him two million euros. A month later he climbed up and is now headed to another climb.
In any case, what for some is a fortune for others is small change. The TV revenues of the Premier are thirty times greater than those generated by the FA Cup. And raise it in Wembley reports in awards just over 7 million euros. Liverpool won 33 this autumn to overcome the group stage of the Champions League. This Monday he was eliminated in the Cup by Wolverhampton.
In England next week the last four places will be decided by 32 winners of the third round, a frontier that marks the premiere of the teams of the two highest categories. Six Premier teams have already fallen and two more are in danger. In addition, as the draws do not have any conditioning, it is already known that in the second round there will be at least half a dozen teams of steps lower than the Premier. One of them could be Barnet, of the fifth division, who faces Brentford, of the second, in a game that will be televised to the whole country. The fan, the football debate in short, sighs for stories of ashen. That round of sixteenth will be staged the last weekend of this month, another way to give flight to the tournament. "No play during the week is vital. The fields are filled, the hobbies are displaced. Each tie is a final and that is how everyone faces it. When you arrive from the outside, it's the first thing they explain to you, "clarifies De Lucas.
In Spain they are alive the eighth finals with 15 teams of First and Sporting as a survivor of the bottom step. The competition is hardly open to the professional teams, the second B pointers and the Third champions and leaves 83 the number of participants on the grid. In England they started this summer 736. In Spain with the current format, including the final, twelve dates are reserved for the Cup, in England just two more. However, the big ones can get better off if they avoid tiebreaks. Manchester United was runner-up last year and only played six games. Barcelona played nine, including the final.
Not to align more teams the tournament should be much longer and also opens up not only hundreds of clubs, but also hundreds of towns and thousands of dreams. In England the Cup admits up to the first classified of the tenth category. In Spain, if the subsidiaries are not considered, there are more than 460 squads in the national category. The Segunda B and Tercera clubs have a substitute, the RFEF Cup, open to teams that do not contest the Copa del Rey or are eliminated in the first round. It is free to enroll, it has subsidized trips, but it does not encourage hearts.
"It's a bad invention that has to disappear. It costs more than what it gives you, "laments Iván Crespo, president of Choco, a classic of the Galician Third Division. The competition is structured with a territorial phase – "in some communities it is not played because no one is aiming", clarifies Crespo- who grants the winner 3,000 euros. Who wins the national phase takes 90,000. The last champion, the Pontevedra, who had to play in a long and anonymous route round-the-clock duels against the Rapido de Bouzas vigués, Burgos, Cantabrian Escobedo and the Valencian Saguntino and Ontinyent. "Entering the Copa del Rey, with an incentive for qualifying and the illusion of getting to play against a professional rival would help to see the competition in a different way and make a hobby", values Crespo. "In reality that is what makes the Cup genuine and gives it prestige", ditch De Lucas.
Would the new format be a problem for the big ones to overcome or at least reach the last rounds? No, as long as they apply and expose their potential. Of the last 30 editions of the FA Cup, 25 were handed out by Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United. Tottenham and Manchester City won once and only broke the Everton forecast in 1995, Portsmouth in 2008 and Wigan in 2013. When there is a title in play and a horizon of just ninety minutes to maintain options to win it, few make concessions. It would be difficult to imagine that Barcelona presented the line-up that took off on Thursday in the Levante field. But nobody was surprised that they kept Messi and Suarez. "We have the return home to be able to pass round," clarified Valverde at the end.