Atletico set up repeat clash against rivals Real

Atletico Madrid have a chance to pile more King’s Cup misery on neighbours Real after eliminating Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday to set up a last-four clash against the bitter city rivals they beat in last year’s final.

Atletico’s battling 2-1 comeback victory in a rain-lashed quarterfinal, second leg in the Basque Country, which made it 3-1 on aggregate, was Bilbao’s first reverse at their new San Mames arena and meant Diego Simeone’s side, who are joint top of La Liga and through to the last 16 of the Champions League, are still fighting on three fronts.

The heavens also opened over the Catalan capital as Barcelona fielded a second-string side against Levante at a Nou Camp stadium that was barely a quarter full and recovered from conceding an early goal to secure a 9-2 aggregate success.

The record winners, who have claimed Spain’s domestic Cup 26 times, won 5-1 on the night after last week’s 4-1 victory in Valencia in the first leg when they also fell behind.
Barca will play Real Sociedad or third-tier Racing Santander in the last four, although the Santander players have threatened to boycott Thursdays match in protest over unpaid wages.

Sociedad lead 3-1 from last week’s first let at their Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian.
“After we got the opening goal it gave us confidence, strength, commitment and intensity and we were able to win at a very difficult venue,” Simeone told a news conference. “This stadium is full of passion and you experience football in its purest form,” added the Argentine, who has transformed Atletico into strong contenders.

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