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Barca and Real set for Copa showdown

Barcelona and Real Madrid have both been handed straightforward ties against third tier opposition in Thursday's Copa del Rey draw, which also set the two giants on course to meet in the semi-finals should they make it that far.

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Holders Barcelona were drawn against Alaves, UEFA Cup finalists in 2001 but now playing in the Segunda Division B in the last-32 of the competition, with Madrid taking on another Segunda B team in Alcoyano.

There are four all Primera Division ties - Sevilla v Espanyol, Valladolid v Betis, Deportivo v Mallorca and Real Zaragoza v Granada. The first legs are scheduled for October 31 with the return games to be played on November 28.

Each subsequent round was also drawn on Thursday, right through to the semi-finals, where Real and Barca could face each other over two legs in late January. Madrid spokesperson Miguel Pardeza recalled his club's Copa final win over their Catalan rivals in 2010, while saying they would not be taking Alcoyano lightly.

"The most important thing is to take the game with maximum seriousness," Pardeza said. "The Copa is a very nice title, we won it two years ago against Barcelona in a final which was historic for its emotion. We must treat the tie against Alcoyano the same as all other competitions."

Andres Iniesta was similarly coy when questioned on the subject of Barca's opponents, warning that reputation stands for little in the cup. "We have to wary of Alavés," Iniesta said. "In theory we are the superior side, but we still have to play the game."

Possibly the person most excited by the draw was Alaves centre-half Sergio Ayala, 19, who is currently on loan from Barcelona. He told Mundo Deportivo that the two legs would be an opportunity to catch the eye of Barca coach Tito Vilanova.

"It is an opportunity to show who I am," Ayala said. "Since I arrived at Barca I have wanted to play at the Camp Nou. I thought I could do it wearing an Azulgrana jersey but to do it with Alaves will also make me proud."

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