FA Cup vs Copa del Rey

FA Cup vs Copa del Rey – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on January 21st, 2022

If you’ve been following both the English and Spanish football seasons, you may have noticed that the teams that you follow play in some cup competitions, such as the FA Cup and Copa del Rey.

What are the differences between these competitions?

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between the FA Cup and Copa del Rey

The FA Cup and the Copa del Rey are the domestic cups of English and Spanish football respectively. The main difference between these 2 competitions are the number of clubs that play in the competition (FA Cup has more), and the presence of double legged ties.

Here is a further comparison between these 2 competitions:

Competition format

Both competitions follow a knockout tournament format. This means that the losing team will be eliminated from the competition, while the winners will progress to the next round.

This is quite different from other types of competitions, such as:

If your team wishes to win either cup tournament, they will need to ensure that they are consistently winning all of their cup matches.

Eligible teams

The FA Cup includes teams all the way from tier 10 of English football to the Premier League. As such, there are many more teams that compete in the FA Cup (729).

124 of these teams will compete in the main competition of the 2021/22 FA Cup.

The Copa del Rey (aka King’s Cup) consists of a smaller range of teams compared to the FA Cup.

In 2019/20, the Spanish Federation made some changes to its rules. Now, 126 teams are eligible for the competition. These teams come from the different tiers of Spanish football. Some of the teams come from Spain’s top 4 divisions:

  1. La Liga
  2. Segunda Division
  3. Segunda Division B (3rd tier)
  4. Tercera Division (4th tier)

The 4 semifinalists of the Copa Federación de España are included as well. This cup is played among the teams from the 3rd and 4th tiers of Spanish football.

The winners of the 20 groups of the Divisiones Regionales de Fútbol are also included in the Copa del Rey.

Frequency and duration of competition

Both the FA Cup and Copa del Rey occur every season as part of the European football calendar.

The FA Cup starts in August, which is when the European football season usually starts. The final will be played in the later part of May, where it is usually held after the last match of the Premier League.

Meanwhile, the Copa del Rey starts later in November, and ends one month earlier in April.

This could be due to the FA Cup having many more teams compared to the Copa del Rey.

Number of rounds

The FA Cup has a total of 8 rounds, where there are 5 rounds before the Quarter-Finals. Meanwhile, the Copa del Rey has 1 less round, with a total of 7 rounds.

The Copa del Rey has 2 starting rounds, before leading to a Round of 32.

Round which the top tier clubs enter

For the FA Cup, the Premier League teams will start to play in the Third Round. This is when there are 32 teams left in the FA Cup.

This helps to reduce the number of matches your team needs to play!

Meanwhile, the teams from La Liga will play in the first round of the Copa del Rey, with the only exception being the 4 participants in the Supercopa de España.

Replays and extra time

For matches that end in a draw up till the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, a replay will be held at the stadium of the away team.

The Fourth Round of the FA Cup contains 32 teams, which is two rounds before the quarter finals.

For matches from the Fifth Round till the final, there are no replays. Instead, the winner will be decided by extra time and penalties.

All Copa del Rey matches will not go into a replay. Instead, games that end in a draw are decided in extra time. If the scores are still level, then it will go into penalties.

Double-legged ties

The Copa del Rey has double-legged ties in the semi-finals. This means that the teams will play two matches in the semi-finals: both home and away.

The European competitions used to have the away goals rule, which made their 2-legged ties more exciting. However, away goals do not count in the Copa del Rey.

Meanwhile, the FA Cup does not have any double-legged ties for the semi-finals.

The only time that it has double-legged ties would be if the FA Cup match ends in a draw up till the Fourth Round.

Stadium hosting the final match

For the FA Cup, the final is usually hosted in the Wembley Stadium.

Wembley is the current national stadium of the English national football team.

Meanwhile, the final of the Copa del Rey will be played in the Estadio La Cartuja (situated in Seville).

It would be a dream for most players to be able to play in both prestigious stadiums!

Prizes for winning competition

Here are some of the prizes that your team will receive when they win either cup:

FA CupCopa del Rey
Prize moneySimilarSimilar
Europe qualificationEuropa LeagueEuropa League
Super CupFA Community ShieldSupercopa de España

The prize money for both the FA Cup and Copa del Rey are rather similar.

If your team wins either trophy, they will be guaranteed a spot in the group stages of the Europa League.

However, if your team has a spot in the Champions League, this free spot will be given to the next highest team in the table that does not play in European football yet.

Moreover, winning either trophy will allow you to play in the country’s version of the super cup: FA Community Shield (England) and Supercopa de España (Spain).

For the Supercopa de España, both finalists of the Copa del Rey will feature in this competition which consists of 4 teams, while only the winner of the FA Cup will play in the Community Shield.


Here is a summarised comparison between the FA Cup and the Copa del Rey.

FA CupCopa del Rey
Competition formatKnockoutKnockout
Eligible teamsPremier League
to Tier 10
Top 4 Spanish divisions

Semi-finalists of
Copa Federación de España

Winners of Divisiones
Regionales de Fútbol
Number of
8 rounds7 rounds
PeriodAug – MayNov – Apr
Round which top
tier clubs enter
Third RoundRound One (Except for
Supercopa de
España semi-finalists)
Extra timeFrom Fifth
Round onwards
All ties
Double-legged tiesAbsentPresent (Only for
Stadium hosting
the final
WembleyEstadio La Cartuja
Prize moneySimilarSimilar
Europa LeagueEuropa League
Super CupFA Community ShieldSupercopa de España

Is Copa del Rey the Spanish version of the FA Cup?

The Copa del Rey can be considered as the Spanish version of the FA Cup, as they are both the major domestic cup tournaments for England and Spain. However, they still differ in certain ways, such as the number of rounds or the presence of double-legged ties.


Both the FA Cup and Copa del Rey are similar cup competitions for England and Spain respectively during the European football season.

Due to the FA Cup’s long history, and that it contains more clubs, it is possible that it may be slightly more prestigious compared to the Copa del Rey!

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