The magic of the cup is upon us (again). Of course, those of you who are in the know will be well aware that the 2022-23 Copa del Rey started all the way back in October with teams from the sixth tier of Spanish soccer taking part in the preliminary rounds. 110 of the 115 qualified clubs then faced off in the first-round proper in November and we’ve now reached the round of 32, where Real Madrid and the other three participants in the Spanish Super Cup (Barcelona, Real Betis and Valencia) are lucky enough to be able to begin their cup campaign.
The RFEF – the Spanish Football Federation – changed the format of the competition for the 2019-20 edition, which few could dispute has made things far more interesting. More teams have entered from the lower divisions and can live the dream of competing against clubs they would ordinarily never face, while the higher seeded team playing away from home in a one-off cup-tie means there’s always the hope of a cup upset. Who doesn’t love one of those?
The changes have led to ties like this one, with the mighty, all-conquering Real Madrid, who have won the European Cup/Champions League on no fewer than 14 occasions, set to turn out against Cacereño, who some Spanish soccer fans will probably never have heard of. Here’s the lowdown on the next opponents for Los Blancos, who are set to rest a whole host of stars.
How to watch Cacereño vs Real Madrid.
📋✅ Our squad for the match 🆚 @CPCacerenoSAD!#CopaDelRey pic.twitter.com/gvvXWszJwX
Cacereño were founded as Club Deportivo Cacereño in 1918 and added ‘poli’ to their name in 1980. They’ve spent the majority of their existence in the fourth tier of Spanish soccer, which is where they are now.
We could be here until next New Year explaining how the league system is set up in Spain below the top two divisions. Cacereño currently play in Segunda Federación, which is the fourth level of the Spain’s league pyramid and has five divisions of 18 teams in it. That’s 90 teams in total (yes, really). The third level (Primera Federación) is made up of two divisions of 40 teams, so they have plenty of competition if they are to make their way up the ladder.
Segunda Federación is a semi-professional league, with clubs required to have a minimum of 10 members of their roster signed on a professional contract. They can also have no more than 16 players over the age of 23.
‘Cacereño’ is both the adjective and demonym for people (or things) from the city of Cáceres, which is the capital of the province of the same name in the autonomous community of Extremadura in western Spain. The medieval walled city, which has a population of just under 100,000, has a mix of Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture and was declared a UNESECO World Heritage Site in 1986. Definitely worth a visit.
You could rattle off the Real Madrid starting line-up and bench without giving it much thought but I suspect few will be familiar with the Cacereño roster.
That said, some of you may remember Mexican midfielder Luis Fernando Télles, who started his career at Atlas in Liga MX and also later turned out for Juárez before moving to Spain in 2020. Tellés signed for Cacereño in the summer and is likely to start.
Cacereño play their home game at Estadio Príncipe Felipe, which opened in 1977 and currently has a maximum capacity of 7000 people. The highest profile match which has ever taken place at the ground was an international friendly between Spain and Romania, which drew a crowd of over 16,000 (before redevelopment), which remains the record attendance.
💚 ¡Lo veremos lleno hasta la bandera! 🤍 pic.twitter.com/kQHN9haBEA
Cacereño have spent almost their entire history flitting between the third and fourth tiers of the Spanish league pyramid. But you’ll no doubt remember their glory year of 1952, when they won promotion to the Segunda División for the one and only time before immediately being relegated the following summer after finishing 16th out of 16 in the ‘South Group’.
Cacereño are currently in sixth place in Group 5 of Segunda Federación, one place outside the promotion playoff places. They do, however, have a game in hand on the teams above them, which could see them move up into joint-second spot, five points behind leaders Melilla. The last time Los Verdiblancos (the Green and Whites) tasted defeat was all the way back at the end of October; they head into the clash against Real Madrid on a seven-match unbeaten streak.
And don’t forget that they’ve already caused a shock this season, defeating LaLiga side Girona in the last round of the Copa del Rey, which was their last competitive game. Watch out Real Madrid, you’re coming up against a team in form.
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Cacereño: who are Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey opponents? – AS USA