Barça and Atlético reign in Cup quarters

Holders Atlético de Madrid set up a mouthwatering Copa del Rey semi-final with city rivals Real Madrid after beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on Wednesday to win 3-1 on aggregate.

Barça and Atlético reign in Cup quarters
Wednesday's cup games were both played under heavy rain. Photo: Lluis Gené/Rafa Rivas/AFP

Barcelona also assured their place in the last four with a 5-1 victory over Levante at the Camp Nou to seal a 9-2 rout on aggregate.

In Bilbao, Aritz Aduriz had powered the hosts into a deserved lead four minutes before half-time and Athletic were only denied a bigger advantage at the break by two outstanding saves from Thibaut Courtois.

However, Atlético regrouped at the break and levelled 10 minutes after the restart when Raul Garcia smashed home Emiliano Insua's cross.

Diego Costa sealed their passage into the last four in the final stages as he slotted home his first goal of 2014 on the counter-attack to inflict Athletic Bilbao's first ever defeat at their San Mames ground, which they have used since the start of the season.

Atlético will travel to the Santiago Bernabéu, where they beat Real 2-1 in last year's final, for the first leg of the semi-final next week with the return to come at the Vicente Calderon the following week.

"In the first 30 minutes we were in control of the tie, if not the match, said Atlético boss Diego Simeone.

"From then until half-time they had a great end to the half, but we came out strong in the second-half and got the goal which gave us confidence and strength."

Simeone's men will now face Real three times in little over three weeks in league and Cup.

However, they are unbeaten in four meetings against Madrid and Barcelona this season and the Argentine feels his side now believe they can compete with Spain's big two.

"This season we will play four more games against Barcelona and Real Madrid and that is good because it tests you more, but you also lose the fear of playing in those games."

Barcelona's passage into the semi-finals was far smoother as they thrashed Levante at a sodden and sparsely populated Camp Nou.

Sergi Roberto's early own goal had given the visitors some hope of an improbable comeback from last week's 4-1 defeat.

However, that was quickly extinguished as Adriano's long-range strike and Carles Puyol's thumping header gave Barca the lead on the night before half-time.

Two goals in quick succession after the break from close range by Alexis Sanchez extended the hosts lead.

Cesc Fabregas rounded off the scoring as his low effort beat Javi Jimenez at his near post 21 minutes from time.

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Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.