KING´S CUP SEMI FINAL FIRST LEG, DEPORTIVO V REAL MALLORCA TONIGHT

AS the only Spanish club still bidding for success in three major competitions, Cup holders Deportivo Coruna are keen to get their semi-final tie against Real Mallorca off to a flying start. The Galicians, who host the islanders in the first leg at the Riazor tonight (kickoff 9.30 pm local time), moved up into fourth in the league after their 2-0 win away to Real Betis on Sunday. Later this month they will be renewing their bid to make the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the third year running when they play back-to-back matches against Swiss side Basel. Although coach Javier Irureta is anxious that his side goes all out for success in every competition, he is aware of the toll it could take on his team with the season now entering its most crucial phase. “Of course we are aiming for success in everything,” Irureta told reporters yesterday. “But it is a very tall order when you are fighting on three fronts at the same time. With the return matches not taking place until the start of next month, Irureta is hoping that his side can resolve the tie against Mallorca in the first leg. “It is going to be a very tough month for the players and we are going to have to do all we can to sort out the tie in the first leg.” Mallorca, who demolished an under-strength Real Madrid 4-0 in last weeks' quarter-final second leg, will be Deportivo's first top flight opponents in this season's competition. Deportivo were lucky to scrape their way to an away goals victory over second division leaders Murcia in the last round and will be aware that although Mallorca have had a inconsistent season they are match for any team on their day. The islanders' leading scorer Walter Pandiani returns from suspension and will team up with Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o and the in-form Argentine winger Ariel Ibagaza in an intriguing battle against Depor's deadly strike pairing of Roy Makaay and Diego Tristan. The other semi-final has matched two of the first division's most modest outfits. Bottom club Recreativo Huelva, who edged their way to a 1-0 aggregate victory over Atletico Madrid in the quarters, host Osasuna at the Nuevo Colombino tomorrow. Osasuna, who are trained by former Mexican national team coach Javier Aguirre, claimed a nail-biting 4-3 aggregate win over Sevilla at a snowy El Sadar in a match which saw four extra time goals. Whichever side wins through it will be their debut in a Cup final and a chance to gain the first piece of silverware in their history.

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