The Copa del Rey is one of the most passionate tournaments in Spanish football.
It is the most peculiar tournament in soccer as it allows amateur teams competing in regional categories to face the sport’s big stars.
If you are confused about the Copa del Rey, don’t worry because, in this post, I will explain everything you need to know in detail. Although every year is indeed changing so, we will focus on this last season and its corresponding classifications.
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What is the Copa del Rey?
The Copa del Rey, or King’s Cup, is a national competition in Spanish football, organized annually by the Royal Spanish Football Federation and contested by 115 clubs in Spain. It is equivalent to the English FA Cup, the Coppa Italia, or Germany’s DFB-Pokal.
The Copa del Rey is the country’s oldest national soccer championship, having been its first edition in 1903. Since it began, it was the most prestigious competition in Spain at the club level until the National League Championship came up.
How does the Copa del Rey work?
The King’s Cup 2022/2023 began with the preliminary round on October 19, 2022. All the qualifying rounds of the competition are single-legged, except for the semifinals, which will be double-legged.
The matches will always be held on the field of the team of the lower category, except in the case of two clubs that belong to the same category, which will be played at the facilities of the team whose ball was drawn first.
Why is it played on the field of the lower-category team? Because it gives a slight advantage to the players as they know the field, they are more motivated, and it also helps them financially with the box office.
A prior draw is made in which the “Primera División” teams (those of higher category) are crossed with those of lower category. In each round, a draw is made between the remaining teams, always crossing a team of a higher category with one of a lower category.
First Round (“Primera ronda”): 110 teams (4 Super Cup teams and the champion team of the “Primera Federación” are exempted).
Second Round (“Segunda ronda”): 56 teams (including the champion team of the “Primera Federación).
Sixteenth Round (“Dieciseisavos”): 32 teams (including the 4 teams of the Super Cup: Real Madrid, Barça, Betis, and Valencia).
Round of 16 (“Octavos”): 16 teams
Quarterfinals (“Cuartos de final”): 8 teams
Semifinals (“Semifinales”): 4 teams (remember that this round is played as a double game, not as a single game. It will be played once at one team’s stadium and a second time at the opposing team’s stadium).
Final (“Final”): 2 teams (to be played in the city selected by the Spanish Federation, about six months before the match takes place).
The final of the Copa del Rey 2022/23 will be on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at the Olympic Stadium “La Cartuja,” in Seville. The tournament winner will qualify for the group stage of the next edition of the Europa League.
How many teams qualify for Copa del Rey?
One hundred ten clubs participated in the draw for the first knockout round of the Copa del Rey 2022-23. Five teams were absent in this first draw: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Valencia, Betis, and Racing Santander. Why??
The Real Madrid team, as well as FC Barcelona, Betis, and Valencia (all of them Primera División clubs), were exempted from playing in the first two rounds of the tournament, as they are participants in the Spanish Super Cup (which we will talk about later). This exemption is due to the format change of both the Cup and the Super Cup that took place in the 2019-2020 season. The main reason was not to overload the calendar of these teams and because, in seasons with a standard calendar, they wanted to play the second round of the Cup coinciding with the four-team tournament of the Super Cup.
In the case of Racing Santander, it does not participate in the first knockout round because it was the champion of the “Primera Federación” last season.
The 110 teams present at the 2022-23 opening round draw were:
16 Primera División teams
Atletico del Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Athletic, Osasuna, Celta, Rayo, Elche, Espanyol, Getafe, Mallorca, Cádiz, Almería, Valladolid y Girona.
Fuenlabrada, Alcorcón,Amorebieta, Deportivo de La Coruña, Racing Ferrol, Rayo Majadahonda, UD Logroñés, Nástic Tarragona, Linares, Atlético Baleares, Pontevedra, Numancia, Córdoba, Mérida, Ceuta, Intercity, La Nucía, Murcia y Eldense.
34 Second B teams
Adarve, Navalcarnero, Coruxo, Palencia Cristo Atlético, Sestao, Arenas, AD San Juan, Racing Rioja, Gernika, Penya Deportiva, Teruel, Lleida, Ibiza Islas Pititusas, Cacereño, Coria, Hércules, Ourense, Gimnástica de Torrelavega, SD Beasain, Manresa, Atlético Saguntino, Guijuelo, Juventud Torremolinos, Recreativo Huelva, Atlético Paso, Yeclano, Diocesano, Atlético Cirbonero, Arnedo, Utebo, Guadalajara, Alfaro, Utrera y Olot.
7 Tercera División teams
Lealtad, Las Rozas, Manacor, Quintanar del Rey, Almazán, Vimenor y Huétor Tajar.
4 Fed Cup Semifinalist teams
Arenteiro, Real Unión, San Roque de Lepe y Alzira.
10 Winning teams Preliminary elimination
CD Fuentes, CD L’ Alcora, Velarde CF, CD Santa Amalia, EFCD Algar, UD Barbadás, Autol, Mollerusa, Cazalegas y CD Rincón.
Who has won more Copas del Rey?
FC Barcelona is the club that has won the most Copas del Rey, with a total of 31 titles.
But the most recent champion that won the Copa del Rey in 2022 was the Real Betis after defeating the Valencia club at “La Cartuja” Stadium in Seville.
The winning club receives the name “Champion of Spain.”
Here’s the list of the Spanish soccer teams that won the most Copa del Rey from 1902 to 2022:
Athletic Club de Bilbao
Atlético de Madrid
Real Unión de Irún
Deportivo de la Coruña
Arenas Club de Getxo
Club Ciclista de San Sebastián
Racing Club de Irún
What is the difference between Copa del Rey and LaLiga?
LaLiga and the Copa del Rey are two different competitions in Spanish football. LaLiga is a double round-robin competition between the top 20 teams in Spain, while the Copa del Rey is a knockout competition involving teams from different divisions.
LaLiga is the Spanish League while Copa Del Rey is the Spanish Cup. Just like the English Premier League and FA cup of England. In addition, LaLiga is organized by the LFP (Professional Football League), and the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation) manages the Cup.
Also, LaLiga qualifies you for the Champions League, while the Copa del Rey qualifies you for the Europa League.
But, still the main difference is that LaLiga is based on the points obtained in the different games during the season (from August to May), and the Copa del Rey is a knockout round.
See what people have to say about it:
Is Spanish Cup and Copa del Rey the same?
The Spanish Cup and the Copa del Rey are precisely the same. As we mentioned at the beginning, it is a knockout soccer tournament held annually between the best clubs in Spain.
What is la Supercopa?
The Spanish Super Cup (“Supercopa de España”) is an official soccer competition organized by the Royal Spanish Football Federation and held since 1982. Since 2020 has pitted the top two finishers of the Primera División League and the two finalists of the previous season’s Copa del Rey against each other.
To be clear, the Spanish Super Cup is a 4-team competition composed of:
The champion and runner-up of La Liga.
The champion and the runner-up of the King’s Cup
So, the League champion will face the runner-up of the King’s Cup and vice versa.
Where to watch the Copa del Rey 2022/23
In Movistar Plus+ and RTVE, you will have access to Copa del Rey broadcasting.
Movistar Plus+ will broadcast at least 55 matches each season, 45 of them exclusively. It will exclusively have the second match from the fifth onwards, in addition to the fourth match in simulcast, the semifinals, and the final.
What do you think of the post? Did you know all this about the Copa del Rey?
I have written this article in an easy and clear way since it is not the only soccer competition and can be confusing.
Well, let’s get down to what really interests us, and that is… Which team do you support? It doesn’t matter which country you are reading us from, just to know if we can be friends or enemies!
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!