This Spanish tournament was first held in 1903, in honour of the Spanish king at the time. When it comes to number of trophies, FB Barcelona dominates, although Athletic Bilbao from northern Spain aren’t far behind them.
The tournament is played with no fewer than 84 contestants, with five initial rounds before the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. The teams with the lowest ranking come from the Spanish third division and play from the beginning, while the top ranking La Liga teams only enter the tournament in the fourth round.
Spanish arch rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have squared off in the tournament plenty of times, creating turbulence both on and off the field. Recently, they went head-to-head in the 2014 finals. That time, Real Madrid won by 2-1 with a thrilling late goal. Despite that victory, FC Barcelona holds the most tournament trophies overall, with an impressive 27 wins compared to Real Madrid’s 19. In 2015, they won the finals by beating Sevilla in an impressive game.
The tournament has changed names several times. For example, it used to be known as Copa del Generalísimo during the reign of Francisco Franco. It was named after the dictator until his death in 1975, when the tournament changed its name back to Copa Del Rey, a name which it has kept ever since.
The tournament finals are played in different cities in Spain, creating plenty of debate and controversy among the fans and clubs. There have also been speculations that Real Madrid have been trying to avoid having FC Barcelona play on their home turf, as they have repeatedly undertaken large renovations just before the finals.
The winning team from Copa Del Rey automatically qualify for the Europa League the following season.
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