Andrés Iniesta in action against Hércules in the 2010/11 season

FC Barcelona’s bid to retain the Copa del Rey begins this Wednesday night with the first leg of their Round of 16 tie (10.00pm CET). There are two divisions between the Catalans and their hosts, but there’s a surprising amount of history that works in favour of Hércules. Let’s take a closer look at los blanquiazules:  

  • Hércules hail from the coastal city of Alicante, which lies about 80km south of Valencia. Founded in 1922, the football club borrowed the name of the Roman god Zeus’ tough, adventuring son.
  • The club's best ever cup run came in the final edition before the Spanish Civil War. They went all the way to the semi-finals, where they were soundly beaten 8-2 on aggregate by Madrid.
  • Barça have met Hércules twice in the cup before progressing both times (1955/56 and 1995/96).
  • They play at the Estadio José Rico Pérez, which was inaugurated in 1974 with a friendly against none other than FC Barcelona. The Catalans won that game 4-0, which was also Johan Neeskens' first game for the club after signing from Ajax Amsterdam.

  • The 30,000 capacity ground was one of the venues for the 1982 World CupArgentina beat Hungary 4-1 and El Salvador 2-0 in Alicante, and the stadium was also used for the third-place playoff between France and Poland.
  • Despite spending most of their time in the second division, and sometimes lower, Hércules have had eight different spells in the Spanish top flight. But the 2010/11 season has been their only appearance in La Liga since the turn of the century.
  • Although they went straight back down in 2011, they did record a shock victory at the Camp Nou against a Barça side that was on a 17-game unbeaten streak. Paraguayan Nelson Valdez, playing these days at Seattle Sounders in MLS, scored a famous brace in a 2-0 win.
  • What's more, the previous time they had played in La Liga, back in 1996/97, they won home and away against the Catalans – fighting back from behind on both occasions. Luis Enrique played and scored for FCB in both those games.
  • This is the third time on four seasons that manager Luis Tevenet has met FC Barcelona in the round of 16. He was also in charge of both Cartagena and Huesca when they faced the Catalans in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Both his sides were heavily beaten, 7-1 and 12-1 on aggregate.

  • With the sole exception of Cameroonian midfielder Franck Omgba, all of the current Hércules squad are Spanish nationals.
  • The Barça connection is Albert Dalmau, who is a product of La Masia and played for Barça B under Luis Enrique. Speaking this week, the right back reckoned that “by putting in a good job on Wednesday night, we can build for the future.” And he’s looking forward to catching up with former team-mate Sergi Roberto, who has “known how to take full advantage of the opportunities the coach has given him.”
  • Hércules are currently sixth in Division 3B Group III, twelve points behind leaders FC Barcelona B. The Barça reserves won 3-1 when they travelled to Alicante earlier this season.

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