Since we are on an international break, I figured now was a good time to take a second to look at the cup competitions in England, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. We will look at what stage they are in right now and preview the rest of the competition.
In England, there are two major cup competitions, the F.A. Cup and the League Cup. The FA Cup is in the semifinal stage. The League cup has crowned its champions.
English FA Cup
This is the oldest football competition in the world. The first tournament took place in 1871-72. The competition is open to any professional club from the top 4 tiers of football and several hundred “non-league” teams in the Nation League System tiers 5 to 10. The FA Cup is a bit unique in their use of replays. If the game ends in a draw, and then the match is over and a replay of the game is scheduled at the other team’s stadium at a later date. If that game ends in a draw then they go to extra time and then penalties. The competition has 12 total rounds. The teams that are not in the professional leagues go through a four round qualifying competition in August, September, and October. The qualifying rounds are drawn regionally. After the qualifying rounds, the “proper” rounds start with 32 qualifying teams and the 48 teams from the Football league one and Football league Two. In the third round proper, the 20 winners from the previous round are joined by the 44 teams in the Football league Championship and the Premier League. The current cup holders is Arsenal. They have won the last two FA Cup competitions and are the most successful team in the competition. The semifinals and the final of the competition are played in Wembley Stadium in London. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Europa League.
The current edition of the FA Cup just finished the sixth round proper, or the quarterfinals. The semifinals will take place on April 23rd and April 24th. The April 23rd semifinal will have Everton face either Manchester United or West Ham United. These two teams played to a 1-1 draw in quarterfinals and will have a replay at West Ham on April 13th. The other semifinal is set for April 24th and will feature Crystal Palace and Watford. This is a great moment for both clubs and could be historic for each of them. The final will take place on May 21st. Of the final 5 teams, Manchester United has been to 18 finals and won the cup 11 times. Everton has been to 13 finals and won 5. West Ham United has been to the final 5 times and won 3. Crystal Palace has been to the final 1 time and never won the competition. Watford has never been to the final.
English League Cup
The Football League Cup is a cup competition for any club in the top four levels on the English football league system. That is all of the clubs in the Premier League, Championship, League One, and league Two. The competition was founded in 1960. The most successful team in the competition is Liverpool who has won the competition 8 times. The tournament is single leg matches that if tied goes to extra time and then penalties. The semi-finals are two legged affairs played at each of the teams’ home stadiums. The first round starts with 72 teams from Football League One, Football League Two, and the Championship. In the second round, the 36 winners from the first round are joined by the 12 Premier League teams not in European competitions. In the third round, the 24 winners are joined by the 8 Premier League teams that are involved in Europe. The final is played at Wembley in a one legged final. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Europa League.
The current edition of the League Cup has crowned their champions, Manchester City. Manchester City faced Liverpool in the final at Wembley. The gamed went into the half at a 0-0 tie. In the second half, Fernandinho opened the scoring in the 49th minute. In the 83rd minute, Coutinho scored for Liverpool to draw the game level. The game went to penalties. Emre Can scored the first penalty kick. Fernandinho missed the first one for City. Then Lucas, Coutinho, and Lallana all missed for Liverpool, and Navas, Aguero, and Toure did score for City. City would lift the title thanks to a 3-1 penalty shootout win. This was their fourth ever League Cup title.
In France, there are also two different major cup competitions. They are the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue.
Coupe de France
This is the premier knockout competition in French football. It is open to all amateur and professional football clubs in France, including any club in the overseas departments and territories. The competition started in 1917. The tournament is a random draw each round. If the match ends in a draw then extra time takes place and if needed, penalties take place. The first 6 rounds of the competition take place regionally to help cut down on travel costs. In Round 7, the 156 qualifying teams are joined by the 20 teams in Ligue 2. In Round 9, the 20 Ligue 1 teams join the competition. If a team is two levels below the team they are drawn against then the lower tier team is automatically the home team. This can benefit the amateur teams. The most successful team in the cup is Olympique de Marseille. They have won the title 10 times. The current holder of the trophy is Paris Saint-Germain. This was their 9th time winning the competition. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Europa League.
This year’s edition of the Coupe de France is set for the semifinal round. Three of the four teams are from the top tier of French football. The first semifinal is set for April 19th in Lorient. Lorient hosts Paris Saint-Germain. The other semifinal is between Sochaux and Marseille. Sochaux is in the second tier of French football. This could set up an intriguing final between PSG and Marseille. If PSG win the competition, then they will draw level with Marseille on 10 total titles. The final will take place in the Stade de France.
Coupe de la Ligue
This is France’s second cup competition. It is very similar to the League Cup in England. It is only open to professional clubs in France. The tournament was founded in 1994. It is a single legged knockout competition. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. The current champions are Paris Saint-Germain, who also has won the competition more than any other team. The first two rounds feature teams not in the top flight of French football. In the third round, the French teams not competing in Europe join. In the Round of 16, the rest of the top flight teams join. The final of the competition is played at the Stade de France.
This final is set for this year’s competition. Lille will face off with Paris Saint-Germain on April 23rd. This could be PSG’s third title in a row. Lille has not won the title and is making their first appearance in the final. This could be PSG’s second trophy of the season since they have clinched the league already.
In Italy there is one major cup competition, the Coppa Italia.
The Coppa Italia is the annual cup competition in Italy. It was founded in 1922, however, there was a bit of a break since the second champion was not crowned until 1936. The draw for the whole competition takes place before a game is played. It is a single legged tie excepted for the semi-finals, which are two legged. If the match is a draw then extra time is played. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. There are 8 rounds in the tournament. The first round consists of teams that are not in the Serie A or Serie B. Teams in Serie B join in the second round. In the third round, the 12 lowest teams in Serie A join. In the Round of 16, the last 8 remaining teams from Serie A join the competition. The final is played in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The most successful team is Juventus with 10 tournament wins. They also won the competition last year.
The final for this year’s competition is set for May 21 and will feature the two biggest teams in Italian football. Milan will face Juventus. Juventus are looking to win their 11th title and second in a row. Milan has won the trophy 5 times but not since 2003. This could be a big step forward for them in their rebuilding process.
There is only one major cup competition in Spain.
Copa del Rey
The King’s Cup is the oldest competition in Spanish football. It was founded in 1903. 83 teams compete in the competition each year. The winner is given a spot in the Europa League. Barcelona is the most successful team in the competition, having won 27 times. They are also the current holders of the trophy after defeating Athletic Bilbao last year. The competition is limited in terms of entry. The only teams that are allowed to enter the competition are the teams from the Primera Division, Segunda A, 23 teams from Segunda B and the top team in Tercera Division that is not a reserve team. The early rounds are all one legged matches with the team from the lower division as the home team. The competition starts with all of the teams from Tercera and Segunda Division B competing. They are seeded regionally. The teams in the Segunda Division A join in the second round. One team will receive a bye. The Segunda Division teams face each other in the early rounds. La Liga joins during the Round of 32. From the Round of 32 on, the games are two legged ties with the winner being decided on aggregate scores. The location of the final rotates around the major stadiums in Spain.
The final is set for May 22nd this year. It will take place in the Vicente Calderon. The final will feature Barcelona and Sevilla. Barcelona is looking for their second straight Copa Del Rey win and their 28th title over all. Sevilla have won the title 5 times in the past.
There is one major cup competition in Germany.
The DFB Pokal is the major cup competition in Germany. It was founded in 1935. 64 teams participate in the competition, including all clubs from the Bundesliga and the 2.Bundesliga. The top four finishers of the 3. Liga are automatically qualified for the tournament. 21 slots are given to the Cup winners of the regional football association. The final 3 spots are given to the three regional associations with the most men’s teams. The 64 teams are split into two pots for the initial draw. In one pot, the 32 amateur teams are placed. In the other pot are the teams in Bundesliga and the teams in the 2.Bundesliga that were not just recently promoted. All the teams are involved from the start. The final is played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. The winner of the competition qualifies for the Europa League. The most successful club is Bayern Munich with 17 titles. Wolfsburg is the current holders.
This year, the Pokal is currently in the semifinal stage. The final four teams left are Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin, and Borussia Dortmund. Bayern Munich will face Werder Bremen in the first semifinal on April 19th. Hertha Berlin will face Borussia Dortmund in the second semifinal on April 20th. The final will take place on May 21st.