The pairings for the third round of the Copa del Rey were set on Friday afternoon, setting up early-January games for the three Americans’ teams who remain in the competition following the most recent round.
With two teams featuring Americans – Shaq Moore’s Tenerife and Matt Miazga’s Alaves – dropping out in the just-finished second round, only three remain in the competition, as it reaches its final 32 competitors.
For this round, the four teams competing in the Supercopa de España, most relevantly Barcelona, finally enter the competition. The seeded format still sees the 16 remaining La Liga teams paired with lower division opposition in the second through fourth divisions, who have the privilege of acting as hosts for the games.
Barcelona’s Sergiño Dest has fought recently with injury and seemingly fallen out of favor with new coach Xavi for the struggling team, however could catch a break when the team visits third-tier Linares, who have already taken down one La Liga team so far this year.
Indeed, the Andalusian minnows were responsible for the early departure of Matt Miazga’s Alaves last week, one of four La Liga teams to suffer an upset, although without Miazga on the field due to Covid protocols.
Despite their struggles throughout the entire season, the Catalonians will undoubtedly be a more difficult opponent for Linares, however the “Little Blues” will be gunning for another scalp.
Despite playing sparingly in Valencia’s La Liga campaign, USMNT starter Yunus Musah has been a Copa hero for his team, most recently scoring their opening goal as they eventually beat Arenteiro last week.
The stakes are higher in the third round, as they take the their toughest opponent so far in the competition, when they take the 175-mile drive down the Mediterranean coast to face second-division side FC Cartagena. The team is currently in eighth place in La Liga 2, and eyeing a late-season push towards reaching the promotion playoff to reach the top flight for the first time in their history.
Finally, Matthew Hoppe’s Mallorca drew one of the toughest possible opponents possible, having to face current La Liga 2 second-place team Eibar.
Hoppe has been absent from Mallorca’s lineup for months now due to an injury, with an early-2022 return the target, however the January 5 kickoff might be a bit too soon.
Mallorca had no issues to knock off their fourth-division foes Llanera last round, and will be facing a La Liga-quality Eibar team that already dispatched one team containing an American, Shaq Moore’s Tenerife.
The games take place on January 4-6, 2022, with the winners advancing to the round of 16 approximately a week and a half later.
Copa del Rey Third Round Draw
Linares – Barcelona (Sergiño Dest)
Cartagena – Valencia (Yunus Musah)
Eibar – Mallorca (Matthew Hoppe)