When Barcelona played their first-leg match of the Copa del Rey round of 32, all the way back at the end of October, something odd happened: they settled for a dull, scoreless draw against third-tier football club, CF Villanovense. Rather than risk the injury of top talent like Luis Suarez and Neymar-particularly important given the then-ongoing absence of Lionel Messi-manager Luis Enrique chose to field a soccer squad of players who normally don't start. The result was a surprisingly poor showing for the reigning Copa del Rey champions and the recent treble victors.

Last week, when Barca returned to the pitch for their second leg against Villanovense-and when the rest of the round of 32 finally got underway-things looked quite a bit different for the soccer club. Enrique still left Neymar and Suarez on the bench (and Messi wasn't even on hand as a substitute), but it didn't matter. Playing at home on December 2nd, Barcelona demolished their third-tier challengers, winning 6-1 on the strength of a Sandro Ramirez hat trick.

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A Good Week for the La Liga

Barcelona Home Shirt 2015 - 2016The win sends Barcelona into the round of 16-and gives the reigning champs a nice long break since those games won't even take place until January. After all, the rest of this year's Copa del Rey field were only playing their first legs last week. For the most part, though, Barcelona's big win heralded a good week for most of the football clubs of the La Liga.

Indeed, aside from a small handful of upsets (Ponferradina beating Eibar 3-0, Huesca topping Villarreal 3-2, Laganes edging out Granada 2-1), top-tier Spanish clubs were successful almost across the board in their first appearances in the 2015 2016 Copa del Rey.

The Frontrunners

Surprisingly, other than Barcelona's five-point second leg win, the week didn't see a whole lot of big-scoring victories. Sevilla had one of the bigger weeks, crushing UD Logrones 3-0. Sevilla nearly made it to the semifinals in the Copa del Rey last season and are definitely one of the teams to watch this time around.

Atletico Madrid won an away game without putting their stars on the pitch. Facing Reus Deportiu, the Mattress Atletico Madrid Home Shirt 2015 - 2016Makers left key players like Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres at home. The soccer club won the match 2-1 on the strength of goals from Luciano Vietto and Saul-two young players who could be the backbone of future Atletico squads.

The Mattress Makers got a break of bad luck in last year's Copa del Rey, drawing against Barcelona-and inevitably losing-in the quarterfinals. The wearers of the Atletico Madrid jersey 2015/16 will be looking to redeem themselves and win their first CDR since 2013, and this win is a solid if unspectacular start to that campaign.

Real Madrid's Big Blunder

Going into the round of 32, Real Madrid had to be considered one of the frontrunners to win this year's Copa del Rey. They looked like one on the field two, topping third-tier team Cadiz 3-1 thanks to a brace of goals from Isco. Unfortunately, manager Rafa Benitez made a major blunder that will cost his football club a chance to compete in the remainder of the tournament.

To avoid putting Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, or Karim Benzema in the lineup for the match, Benitez opted to start Denis Cheryshev, a Russian midfielder who Real Madrid signed from Villarreal over the summer. This game was only Cheryshev's fifth appearance with the Vikings since his signing, and he made good use of the playtime, netting a goal just three minutes into the match.

But there was a complication.

Last season, in Villarreal's final Copa del Rey match (they were eliminated by Barcelona in the semifinals), Cheryshev picked up his third yellow card of the 2015 2016 tournament. Based on the tournament rules, three yellow cards earn a one-game suspension-meaning that, technically, Cheryshev wasn't eligible to play in Real's first-leg match at Cadiz. As a result, the Vikings have been ejected from the 2015 2016 Copa del Rey and Cadiz have been given a free pass to the round of 16.

Appealing the Decision

While fans of the football club will likely be quick to point a finger at Benitez-who hasn't exactly earned Real Madrid Home Shirt 2015 - 2016the love of the Bernabeu fanbase yet-the manager wasn't entirely at fault here. As Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has noted in the wake of the decision, Cheryshev never received notice of a sanction. Since Cheryshev wasn't even playing at Real Madrid last season-and since Rafa Benitez wasn't even coaching in Spain, it's unrealistic to expect anyone to remember a three yellow card suspension without proper notification of sanction from the Spanish FA. As a result, Real Madrid will be appealing the decision.

What do you think? Do Real Madrid deserve to be tossed out of the Copa del Rey? Is the mistake on the shoulders of the Spanish FA for not sending a proper notification that Cheryshev had been sanctioned? Would a compromise (throwing out the Cheryshev's goal, or tossing out the entire game and making the second leg count for double) be a better punishment than ejecting one of the top tournament contenders?

At Soccer Box, we want to hear your thoughts on this controversial decision. Find us on social media to discuss, we are active on multiple platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr.