Because the Royal Spanish Football Federation is the Royal Spanish Football Federation, it decided to hold the draw for the Copa del Rey last 16 on Tuesday while four of its top sides are preparing to compete in the Champions League. All things considered, Atlético Madrid made out rather well in this draw, as their opponent will be third-tier Lleida Esportiu.
You probably know Lleida from the famous upset they pulled last week: trailing 2-0 at Real Sociedad in the Round of 32 second leg, the Catalan side roared back to win 3-2 and advance on away goals. Lleida is one of the oldest cities in Catalonia and the team, founded in 2011 following UE Lleida’s collapse, plays at the 99-year-old Camp d'Esports where the first leg will be held on Jan. 3.
Atlético, meanwhile, eliminated Elche 4-1 on aggregate, dispatching them rather easily after a difficult first leg. Diego Simeone’s men will respect this third-tier opponent, as those sides don’t often make it to the last 16. However, this has to be considered a kind draw at this stage in the competition, especially seeing as other first-tier sides were pitted against one another — Barcelona got Celta Vigo and Villarreal were paired with Leganés, for example.