Fan death casts shadow over Copa del Rey
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The death of a man from a clash between rival Spanish fans will overshadow this week’s Copa del Rey matches.
Deportivo La Coruna and Atletico Madrid both start their campaigns with games on Wednesday, three days after a violent street fight left one Deportivo fan dead.
Here are some things to know about this week’s Copa del Rey matches:
Deportivo’s players held a moment of silence during training on Monday to “show their sympathies and support for the family” of the victim it identified as Francisco Javier Romero Taboada, who died from injuries sustained in a fight between Atletico and Deportivo fans in Madrid on Sunday.
Both Atletico and Deportivo have condemned the incident.
Deportivo hosts Malaga on Wednesday in one of four matches between topflight clubs. Atletico, meanwhile, travels to Barcelona to face third-tier club Hospitalet.
Real Madrid will have two objectives when it hosts Cornella on Tuesday: Extend its record winning streak and rest some of its first-choice players.
Madrid set a club record with a 16th consecutive victory on Saturday.
Madrid, along with Sevilla, started the competition with lopsided wins in October so it can participate in the Club World Cup later this month representing Europe as the Champions League winners.
With little worries that third-division club Cornella can overturn a 4-1 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has revealed he will start some regular substitutes.
“The team isn’t tired ... but we need to rotate so we can give some minutes to players who have played less,” Ancelotti said. “I more or less have my starting squad. Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Karim) Benzema and (Toni) Kroos will rest.”
The Italian coach said he plans for forward Jese Rodriguez, who hasn’t played since needing two right knee surgeries after injuring his leg last March, to go on as a second-half substitute.
Barcelona’s biggest concern when it visits Huesca on Wednesday may be the state of the field.
Heavy rain forced match officials to call off Huesca’s home game on Saturday against Fuenlabrada.
While most of the top teams drew opponents from lower divisions, some were not as lucky and face tough opening rounds against fellow first-division clubs.
Valencia visits Rayo Vallecano on Thursday in the most interesting match. Also, Granada hosts Cordoba on Wednesday, and Eibar is at Getafe on Friday.