Fifth in the Primera División thanks to the form of a crop of talented youngsters, RC Deportivo La Coruña are now looking to impress in the Copa del Rey.
RC Deportivo La Coruña's meeting with Real Racing Club Santander is the pick of tonight's games as the Spanish Cup continues.
All Primera División clubs have entered the competition at this fourth-round stage. Unlike last season's one-off games in the early rounds, the entire competition will see matches played over two legs until the final. Fifth in the table, Deportivo are enjoying the high life after two campaigns without European competition. The form of youngsters Antonio Barragán, Joan Verdú, Javier Arizmendi, Sergio Rodríguez, Álvaro Arbeloa and Adrián López have sparked talk of a 'baby boom' for coach Joaquín Caparrós.
The Galician club have lost only to Levante UD in the league this term, and look like they may have something to celebrate at the end of their centenary season, even though the departures of veteran talents Roberto Acuña, César Martín, Enrique Romero, Héctor Berenguel, Lionel Scaloni and Pedro Munitis augured ill. "We're the type of team that wants that ball to do the running and that has to be one of our strong points," said Caparrós. "We haven't got a regular centre forward but we have fast players so if the pitch is slow it will not help us."
Towards the other end of the table, Racing have been experiencing some teething troubles under new coach Miguel Ángel Portugal. However, having lost their opening three games, they are now unbeaten in four, with three draws and a first win of the season against CA Osasuna. Tonight's game will see plenty of old team-mates come face to face as Racing signed former Riazor favourites Munitis, Scaloni, Momo and Antonio Tomás in the summer and also brought in Rubén Castro on loan. The return leg will be played in Santander on 8 November.
The man who led Depor to league glory in 2000 and the Copa del Rey in 2002, Javier Irureta, is looking for a change in fortune as his Real Betis Balompié team gear up for a derby against RC Recreativo de Huelva. "This is the most complicated, but not the most difficult, position I've been in as a coach," said the 58-year-old, whose team occupy 18th spot. "I don't know if my job is in danger, I can only talk about football. What I do know is that a good result in the cup could be a springboard for us."
In the other high-profile first legs tonight, Écija Balompié play host to Real Madrid CF, while European and Spanish champions FC Barcelona travel to Badalona CF. Valencia CF are also away from home as they take on RC Portuense, and the UEFA Cup holders Sevilla FC play at Gimnástica Segoviana.