NO TIME TO REST

Tough game for Real Madrid in Copa del Rey last 16

Real Madrid have hardly had time to lick their wounds and recover tired legs before they travel to Villarreal for what looks like the toughest tie of the round.

In Summary

• Wednesday sees the bulk of the matches, with Athletic Bilbao at home to an Espanyol side that won in Getafe on Sunday.

• Finally, second division side Sporting Gijon will try and forget their league problems when they entertain Valencia.

Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez (17) vies for the ball with Carmelo Merenciano of CP Cacereno during a Copa del Rey round of 32 match on January 3
Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez (17) vies for the ball with Carmelo Merenciano of CP Cacereno during a Copa del Rey round of 32 match on January 3
Image: XINHUA

The last 16 matches of the Spanish Copa del Rey knockout competition are played this week, with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both in action on Thursday night.

Newly crowned Super Cup winners Barcelona travel to face Ceuta. However, Barca should not get overconfident as Ceuta defeated top-flight opponents Elche in the last round, and the visit to the Spanish enclave on the coast of North Africa is not easy, involving a helicopter flight from Malaga.

Real Madrid have hardly had time to lick their wounds and recover tired legs before they travel to Villarreal for what looks like the toughest tie of the round.

Villarreal beat Madrid 2-1 in La Liga less than a fortnight ago and have had more time to prepare for the match, while Real Madrid are likely to be without David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez, and players, such as Luka Modric, looked flat and tired in Riyadh.

Wednesday sees the bulk of the matches, with Athletic Bilbao at home to an Espanyol side that won in Getafe on Sunday. Cup holders Betis, who were unlucky to lose to Barca on penalties in the Super Cup semifinals, are at home to a rugged Osasuna and second division Levante will test Atletico Madrid, who have Stefan Savic available to play in defence.

Finally, second division side Sporting Gijon will try and forget their league problems when they entertain Valencia. Valencia travel after losing the Super Cup semifinal on penalties to Real Madrid in Riyadh, while Sporting have just sacked coach Abelardo Fernandez after a run of just one win in 12 games.