Copa del Rey offers immediate chance of redemption for Big 2

January 6, 2015 1:37 am 

MADRID, Jan. 5 — Atletico and Real Madrid will renew their rivalry in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night in a game made even more attractive by the possible return of Fernando Torres to the Atletico side.

The Madrid derby is the most attractive of the eight last first leg ties in the last 16 of the competition which will be played over three days this week and it gives Real Madrid the chance to bounce back after Sunday's defeat in Valencia ended their excellent run of 22 consecutive wins.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was philosophical about the defeat, saying his side had "played well before the defeat and we'll play well afterwards as well".

Atletico will receive Real Madrid with their morale sky high after closing the gap at the top of the table and announcing the return of Fernando Torres, who was presented in front of 45,000 fans on Sunday.

Both sides are likely to make changes to their starting 11 with Keylor Navas starting in goal for Real Madrid, while Torres will probably start on the subs' bench.

FC Barcelona will also look to the Cup to give their morale a boost after slipping to their third defeat of the season away to Real Sociedad. That defeat has raised questions about the management of Luis Enrique and he needs to get his team working as a unit rather than relying on the individual skills of players such as Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Barca should have few problems against bottom of the table Elche on Thursday, but anything other than a convincing win will leave major questions unanswered.

The last 16 ties begin on Tuesday when Celta Vigo, who have not scored in seven league games, entertain Athletic Club Bilbao, while Malaga take on Levante.

As well as the Madrid derby, Wednesday sees Real Sociedad, fresh from their win over Barcelona, travel to face and impressive Villarreal, while Almeria entertain Getafe, who are looking for a new coach after Cosmin Contra's move to China and Valencia face Espanyol.

Thursday round things off with Barcelona against Elche and an Andalusia derby between Granada and Sevilla. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/SSC

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