DOHA: Qatar is used to playing a prominent role in Spain’s El Clasico matches, with Qatar Airways as the main shirt sponsor of FC Barcelona. Now a team with strong ties to the country will be looking to defeat Real Madrid in a Spanish cup fixture with a difference.
Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa grabbed the attention of sports fans around the world when it was announced that that the team will play against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey's round of 32.
The news follows a dream start to the season by the club with big ambitions from Castile and León in Spain. The club has secured 8 wins out of 10 games already this season, including defeating fierce rivals Albacete 2-1 in their most recent game on October 12.
Playing in the Segunda División B in the Spanish league, Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa have enjoyed considerable success in recent years. Since the Club was bought by Aspire Zone Foundation in 2015, excitement about the club’s future has grown enormously amongst fans and members of the local community.
It has led to an influx of international coaching expertise and an influx of players from Aspire Academy, providing opportunities for them to develop their talents in a new footballing environment. This is an important part of Aspire Academy's mission to become one of the world's best football development programmes.
Now, the team will face Real Madrid on 26 October in the first leg tie at the Estadio Reino de Leon in the biggest game of the players’ professional careers to date. The second leg will be played at the Bernabéu Stadium on November 30.
The opportunity to compete against one of the world’s most successful and celebrated clubs will provide invaluable experience and provide a major confidence boost for the players.
It also suggests a bright future for a team that has strong ambitions to secure promotion into the Segunda Division A as soon as possible.
Ruben de la Barrera, Manager of Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa said: “We’re a club with big ambitions and we can’t wait to face a side of Real Madrid’s quality. We’re incredibly excited to take our game to the Bernabéu Stadium and show the world what we’re made of. This is a huge moment for our fans and everyone associated with Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa. Given our recent run of strong results, we’re feeling as confident as we could be.”
Iván Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy said: “Moments like this are hugely inspiring for the many talented youngsters at Aspire Academy. They highlight to our players the opportunities available if they work hard enough, and the chances they have to gain invaluable playing experience and develop their potential. In a short space of time, Aspire has made a huge impact on the club and we look forward to seeing where we can take them next.” - Press release