MATCHDAY: Madrid visits Athletic in Copa quarterfinals

February 2, 2022 GMT
Elche's Helibelton Palacios, left, and Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior challenge for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Elche at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Elche's Helibelton Palacios, left, and Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior challenge for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Elche at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Elche's Helibelton Palacios, left, and Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior challenge for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Elche at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Elche's Helibelton Palacios, left, and Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior challenge for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Elche at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Elche's Helibelton Palacios, left, and Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior challenge for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Elche at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday:

SPAIN

Real Madrid tries to return to the Copa del Rey semifinals when it visits Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés Stadium. Madrid hasn’t made it to the last four since the 2018-19 season, when it was eliminated by Barcelona. Madrid is seeking its first Copa title since 2014. It will be the fourth meeting between Madrid and Athletic in two months. Madrid defeated Athletic in the final of the Spanish Super Cup last month in Saudi Arabia, and it also beat the Basque Country club twice in Spanish league matches in December. Madrid will be without striker Karim Benzema because of a muscle injury. Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo and Casemiro — who just arrived from international duty with Brazil — were added to the squad. Athletic was runner-up to Barcelona in the Copa last year. In the other single-elimination quarterfinal on Thursday, 2020 champion Real Sociedad hosts Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis. The semifinals will be played over two legs.

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