Having knocked out Villarreal CF and Real Racing Club, CD Mirandés have emerged as the giant killers of this season's Copa del Rey and the Spanish third division side now aim to oust RCD Espanyol in the quarter-finals.
With a population of just under 40,000, Miranda de Ebro is a town in the Burgos area of north central Spain whose team have spent much of their 85 years in the lower reaches of the national league. Accustomed to changing in makeshift dressing rooms and enduring long bus journeys to away games played on clay pitches, Los Rojillos are currently enjoying the experience of a lifetime – playing and beating the elite. "We've got nothing to lose and we're going to continue enjoying every minute," coach Carlos Pouso told UEFA.com.
Ahead of Tuesday's visit to the Estadio Cornellá-El Prat in Barcelona, where they will face Espanyol in their quarter-final first leg, Pouso insists his side are though to the last eight on merit. "Our team believes in a strong work ethic and understands its strengths, so what we have achieved till now has not been a matter of luck," he said. "Beating Villarreal and Racing was no miracle. Nobody has gifted us anything.
"We know that Espanyol are favourites and that they are better than us in every department," added the 51-year-old. "However, there are two games to play and should we play our part very well we might have a chance. The way we see it, things could have been trickier against a lower-ranked side whereas against Espanyol we will not be short of motivation."
One of the heroes of Mirandés's cup run has been Pablo Infante – currently the Copa del Rey's five-goal top scorer – yet despite the midfielder receiving the media plaudits, Pouso underlines the collective effort as the key to their success. "Infante is just one more player in the squad," he explained. "I prefer to avoid praising individuals, just as Infante avoids opponents out on that pitch. Mirandés are better for having Pablo Infante, but he is what he is thanks to his team-mates."
As well as their cup exploits, Mirandés also lead their division – Grupo 2 of Segunda B – in what is becoming a remarkable campaign. As Pouso puts it: "
In Miranda football is treated as a party. The supporters turn up to enjoy themselves and there's no negativity with them – it's really impressive and you have to applaud them for their attitude."
Inundated by interview requests, the Mirandés coach says he cannot imagine what daily life must be like for two of the highest-profile figures in the Spanish game. "If what I've been going through in recent days was happening every week I'd begin to understand why José Mourinho and Josep Guardiola try to keep their press conferences short," Pouso said. "If this is what their daily lives are like, it must be crazy."
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