Mirandes deals with timing handicap ahead of semifinal return leg against Real Sociedad

DM Monitoring

MADRID: Second division Mirandes and Real Sociedad play the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday night with the tie finely balanced, but the visitors are given a clear advantage by the fixture calendar.
Real Sociedad’s 2-1 win in the first leg means a 1-0 win for Mirandes would see them become the first second tier club in modern times to qualify for the Cup final and go one better than in 2012, when they were beaten at the same stage hurdle by Athletic Club Bilbao. However, the side from the town of Miranda del Ebro has a major handicap in Wednesday night’s game after the Spanish Football League (La Liga) scheduled Real Sociedad’s last league game to be played on Friday night, but refused the requests of the Spanish Football Federation (who organizes the cup) to also move Mirandes’ game against Girona forward from Sunday. That decision means the top tier side has had two days more to prepare for the tie. “It’s a decision that is hard to understand,” commented Mirandes coach Andoni Iraola, adding that “if one team has five days to prepare and the other has three, then that is a considerable difference.”
Iraola will hope to have winger Martin Merquelanz available for the game: the playmaker has missed the past fortnight with a shoulder injury, but the key player, who is on loan from Real Sociedad, is expected to make the squad for Wednesday night. Real Sociedad make the short trip south hoping to make the final for the first time since 1988 and they will have around 1,000 fans cheering them on in the 5,700 capacity Anduva Stadium.
“Everyone knows they have done things very well,” said Real Sociedad winger Mikel Oyarzabal, who reflected on the fact Mirandes have already beaten Celta Vigo, Sevilla and Villarreal in Anduva.
“That is really impressive, but we have to concentrate on our own game and not make any mistakes,” he added, reflecting that Real Sociedad’s status as favorites “means nothing.”
“You don’t score goal just by being favorite. We have to go into the game focused from the start because being considered favorite gives you nothing,” concluded the forward.