Spanish Cup - Copa del Rey
The Spanish Cup, known in Spanish as the Copa del Rey, which means the King”s Cup goes back to the beginnings of the twentieth century and thus predates the Leagues and every other Spanish football competition. Apart from the prestige that comes with winning a national knockout contest that includes all the teams in the first division, the top part of the second division, around 20 teams from the bottom section of the second division and usually the third division champions.
Although not as comprehensive in entry as the English FA Cup with just 83 teams, it still carries enormous prestige and automatic qualification for the EUFA Europa League – the only exception to this rule being when the winner has already qualified for the EUFA Champions League. Winning also carries with it entry into the Supercopa de España.
For many years the Copa del Rey was the national football championship of Spain until the Campeonato de Liga was established in 1928. Teams would win local or regional leagues in order to qualify. Nowadays the structure is a little different. As mentioned above, entry is by league position and the early rounds consist of a single game with teams from the lower tiers of Spanish football having home advantage. Once the Copa reaches just 32 remaining teams, all further matches are played over two legs, home and away, with the final reverting to the one-off format and played at a neutral venue.
Fourteen different clubs have won this much valued trophy and it will be no surprise to followers of Spanish football that Barcelona top the list with 28 victories and a further 10 in the runners-up slot. You may be more surprised that in the second place on this honours board is Atletico Bilbao who have won 23 cups, and have been losing finalists on 14 occasions, followed in third place by Real Madrid with 19 trophies and 20 second places – thus no team has made more final appearances. After these three clubs in the unofficial table we can see Atletico Madrid (10 cups), Valencia (7), Zaragoza (6), and Sevilla (5).
Cups are of course won by goals so let’s look at the leading goal scorers over the distinguished history of this competition. Top of the list is Telmo Zarra who played for Atletico Bilbao from 1939-1957 and scored 81 goals. He is followed by Josep Samitier, a player from the 1919-1934 period who scored 65 goals for Barcelona plus an extra five for Real Madrid. In third place comes Guillermo Gorostiza who scored a total of 62 goals in the years between 1929 and 1946, of which 37 were for Atletico Bilbao and 25 for Valencia.
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