Spain’ s Copa del Rey starts to get interesting this week with the first round ties of the last 16 stage of the tournament throwing up two classic Cup ties.
Real Madrid entertain Sevilla on Wednesday night in their first game since being crowned as World Club Champions in December, while Athletic Club Bilbao take on current Cup holders, FC Barcelona on Thursday in a repeat of the 2015 final.
However, before those matches, there is plenty to entertain fans as football returns to Spain after a two-week lay-off.
2016 ended on another low note in Valencia on December 30th when Cesare Prandelli announced his resignation from the club angry at the lack of new signings.
Prandelli’ s departure means club delegate Voro Gonzalez again returns to the Valencia dugout as his side entertain a talented Celta Vigo in what could be another difficult night in Mestalla.
Bottom of the table Osasuna play host to Eibar in what is virtually a Basque derby in Pamplona, although both sides may be tempted to rest key players for the forthcoming league fixtures this coming weekend.
Atletico Madrid are also in action on Tuesday and with their chances of winning the Liga Santander all but gone, don’ t be surprised to see Diego Simeone field a strong starting 11 for the visit to Las Palmas. Meanwhile Deportivo La Coruna face a solid Alaves.
Wednesday sees Real Madrid’ s game at home to Sevilla, but there are other interesting games as fifth placed Real Sociedad take on fourth place Villarreal and Alcorcon and Cordoba play a game between the two second division survivors.
Finally Athletic and Barca meet at an early stage for the second season in succession after the 2015 Cup final, which Barca won 3-1 in the Camp Nou Stadium, the big question is whether Barca coach Luis Enrique will pick South American stars, Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar after they only returned from their holidays on Tuesday.