At the beginning of the 2018/19 season, the Spanish La Liga team had refused to play in the Americas. But in the Spanish Copa del Rey, Real Madrid had to play on the African continent. In the draw of the 32nd round which took place on Friday (10/19), Los Blancos got opponents from Segunda División B, Union Deportiva Melilla.
UD Melilla is a team from Melilla City (sometimes called Meliya), a Spanish autonomous city located on the coast of eastern Morocco, North Africa. Two famous footballers born in Melilla are Ramón Martínez Pérez or Ramoni, who has defended the Spanish National Team twice in the 1950s and the goalkeeper of the Moroccan national team currently playing in Malaga, Munir Mohand Mohamedi El Kajoui.
Melilla is one of two enclaves in Spain that are permanently inhabited on the African mainland; another enclave is Ceuta. The city became part of Málaga Province until March 14, 1995, when the Statute of City Autonomy was passed. Melilla and Ceuta are free ports before Spain joins the European Union.
Both cities are surrounded by a wire fence to avoid asylum seekers who want to enter Europe (because Spain is a European country). Most of these asylum seekers do not even come from Morocco, but other African countries.
If Melilla has UD Melilla as a team from the city, Ceuta has the Asociación Deportiva Ceuta. Unfortunately AD Ceuta has gone bankrupt in 2012. Even though the two teams have a Spanish derby that is quite famous on the Moroccan mainland, namely Ceuta-Melilla Derby.
The big 32 of the Copa del Rey will be played in two legs. In the first leg, Los Blancos travel to Estadio Municipal vlvarez Claro, home to UD Melilla, on 31 October 2018. While in the second leg, Melilla will travel to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, on 5 December 2018.
Madrid's distance to Melilla is 574.41 km, with a travel time of less than two hours. In addition to Melilla and Ceuta, there are actually other Spanish borders that bear around the land of Morocco and North Africa, namely Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Peñón de Alhucemas, Isla de Alborán, and Islas Chafarinas.
If the distance from Madrid to Melilla is considered too far for a Spanish country, actually a longer distance has occurred even in their top division, La Liga. The Las Palmas team is located in the Canary Islands (Canary Islands), the northwest coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. This group of islands is closer to the African Continent than the European Continent.
Not only the regions above, Spain also actually has a state bound limit with the United Kingdom through Gibraltar's presence near the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates mainland Europe from Africa.
In the last 32 of the Copa del Rey, Melilla was not a team in the lowest division. They are in the third division. The competition with the lowest division in this round was Unió Esportiva Sant Andreu from the fourth division, Tercera División. Just like Melilla, Sant Andreu will also fight the team from the City of Madrid. They will face Atlético Madrid.