Have the cups lost their magic?

The FA Cup, which is seeded and only sees Premier League sides join in January, is often held responsible for fixture congestion.

When it comes to tradition and romanticism in domestic football, no competition can compare to England's FA Cup. Founded in 1871, the world's oldest association football tournament is open to teams from the top 11 leagues of the English game. Last season saw a record 762 teams compete for a place in the final. Italy's long-beleaguered Coppa Italia (founded in 1922) has even made recent changes to its format in a bid to emulate the famous old trophy.

But while Italians - who tune in en masse to watch the FA Cup - are beginning to respect their own Coppa again, the lure of England's five-month long tournament appears to be waning. The FA Cup, which is seeded and only sees Premier League sides join in January, is often held responsible for fixture congestion. Teams threatened by relegation focus on survival, while those challenging in the Champions League - or for a place in the following year's showpiece - prioritise through simple economics: continental football offers a more lucrative end result.

Spain's Copa del Rey, created in 1902, now has limited entry, but was once viewed - prior to the formation of the Primera Liga - as a national championship. Germany saw its domestic trophy, the DFB-Pokal, claimed by their strongest side. Bayern Munich secured their record 15th title with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Werder Bremen proving that the desire to win the trophy has not decreased throughout its 75-year history.

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS