The players celebrating on the pitch after drawing Barça in the Cup / VILLANOVENSE.ES

[[DES_1]]‘CF Villanovense will play FC Barcelona’, the roar of delight could probably have been heard some 130 kilometres away in Portugal. The squad had gathered to follow the live draw for the last 32 of the Copa del Rey in the home side’s dressing room at the Romero Cuerda Stadium via the Spanish Football Federation’s website, with the exception of coach Julio Cobos, who had opted to follow events from home. The reaction was immediate, the squad and club officials pouring out on the pitch to crack open the champagne to celebrate what will be the biggest day in CF Villanovense’s history since its foundation in 1992.

The chance to dream

The last 32 of the Copa del Rey is traditionally when the top teams enter the competition and so for smaller clubs like CF Villanovense, who play in Spain’s regionalised third tier of football, the Segunda B, it is an opportunity to dream of a tie against top flight opposition. Victories against Peña Sport and Racing Ferrol put the club from the town of Villaneuva de la Serena into the draw and the rest, as they say, is history. Club president José Maria Tapia was in the dressing room with the squad when the draw brought his team together with Barça: “For us it was an immensely joyous moment, to come up against the current European, League and Cup champions, whilst we are one of the most modest teams in the Segunda B, it is a great challenge.”

For us it was an immensely joyous moment, to come up against the current European, League and Cup champions

The man who leads the board at the club is unable to overestimate the importance of the visit of the blaugranes to a CF Villanovense who are yet to make it to Spain’s second tier of football, the Segunda A, in their history. “For our city it is an historic event because we have not made it out of the Segunda B. We expect a huge influx of fans both of CF Villanovense and FC Barcelona.” The tie against the current Copa del Rey champions has served to strengthen the links between the football club and the town: “The Club has always had a good relationship with the community, but now anyone from here identifies more with Villanovense…on every corner people are talking about the match.”

Not getting carried away is key

One of the beauties of football is that it throws up these occasions when a club with an annual budget of 300,000 Euros gets the chance to measure up to one of the biggest clubs in the world. Nevertheless, president Tapia is keeping his feet on the ground: “Our dream is to keep on the path we set for ourselves when we took over the club. That is none other than to pay our employees on time and to be able to sleep at night.”

On every corner people are talking about the match

Knowing that Barça fans from all over the world will be focusing on the town of Villanueva de la Serena and Villanovense on Wednesday evening at 8.30pm CET, Tapia is keen to present to a wider public a true picture of  “a modest club who try to things in the right way, both on and off the field, we don’t want, or try to look beyond that, as that would be a mistake. This humility and the ability to take things as they come without losing our head has given us the chance to enjoy a place in the promotion play offs to the Segunda A last season for the very first time, and now the chance to welcome none other than FC Barcelona.”

Villanueva de la Serena's other claims to fame

The small town in Extremadura will host FC Barcelona's first leg last 32 tie on Wednesday at 8.30pm CET against CF Villanovense, but that is not their only claim to fame. Spanish basketball star José Manuel Calderon, who currently plays for the New York Knicks of the NBA, was born there. Furthermore, there's evidence that one of the most Spanish of gastronomic delights, the tortilla de patatas, was invented in Villanueva de la Serena on 27 February 1798.

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