When Real Madrid played their own reserve team in the Copa del Rey final (2023)

It is scarcely believable — and competition rules would not allow it today — but in the 1980 Copa del Rey final, Real Madrid played against their own reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla.

What is even more surprising is that there seemed to be more excitement around the reserve players than the first team.


Perhaps the club were worried about that, too, because, according to some of those who took part, Madrid directors paid a visit to the Castilla dressing room before the match, played at the Santiago Bernabeu, advising them to go easy on the senior pros…

Castilla lost 6-1, but that was not the end of their journey. Thanks to their appearance in the final, they qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup the following season — and they are still the only reserve team to play in European competition.

Here, The Athletic speaks to several of the players who took part in that unique Copa del Rey final. This is how they remember it (their comments have been lightly edited for clarity).

Castilla enjoyed a remarkable run to the final, eliminating four La Liga teams and attracting impressive crowds. Real Madrid beat Logrones and Real Betis in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively before defeating city rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the semi-finals.

Agustin Rodriguez (starting goalkeeper for Castilla, who went on to play for Real Madrid for 10 years): In getting to the final, we’d played some great games, like coming back from 4-1 down in the fourth-round first leg against Hercules. We had wins over Athletic Bilbao, Sporting Gijon and Real Sociedad, who were the surprise package in those years and finished second in the first division that season. The following year they won the league.

At that time, we at Castilla were fourth in the second division. It’s true it was a reserve team with mostly 18- or 19-year-olds, but we still attracted a good bit of attention, although maybe not as much as we would have done now.

When Real Madrid played their own reserve team in the Copa del Rey final (1)

Real Madrid and Real Madrid Castilla line up with the Copa del Rey trophy after the match (Photo: Real Madrid).

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We had good players. There was Ricardo Gallego, Paco Pineda, (Jose Manuel) Espinosa, (Javier) Castaneda, who was the veteran of the team because he was 22. And we had a coach who gave us a lot of confidence, Juanjo. He told us that we could achieve whatever we wanted.


Vicente del Bosque (Real Madrid midfielder who would play for the club for 11 years and was later Madrid and Spain manager): It was a great day for the club. To have your reserve team reach the cup final with your father club is something that will never happen again.

They had a good team, a very good team in fact, who had made more of a run in the cup. We were motivated because the first team hadn’t had a good season, and for the Castilla games, there was a bigger crowd than for the first team.

But we couldn’t lose against Castilla. We weren’t thinking about it.

When Real Madrid played their own reserve team in the Copa del Rey final (2)

Vicente del Bosque (left) and Englishman Laurie Cunningham (right) were both part of the starting line-up against Castilla (Photo: Peter Robinson – PA Images via Getty Images).

Despite the strange circumstances around the final on June 4, there was all the usual pomp before kick-off as the Spanish national anthem rang out around the ground and the king, Juan Carlos, was welcomed by fans.

Real Madrid wore their usual white kit while Castilla were dressed in purple. Madrid captain Pirri offered his reserve team counterpart Castaneda a warm handshake when they met for the coin toss, as well as a mischievous smile.

But it seems as if there were fears Castilla could beat Madrid…

Rodriguez: On Thursdays in training every week, we played against the first team at the Bernabeu, and some days we beat them. Other times we lost, but they were very evenly matched games.

When some directors came in before the match, they were telling us to calm down. I remember I said: “Calm down? But we have to play the game!”

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That Castilla filled the Bernabeu was affecting the Madrid players. We came out of the dressing room looking at them like: “What’s going on, lads?” And they were saying: “Let’s go get them!” For a team that was very aggressive, from 1 to 11, we didn’t give a kick. We were like little lambs to the slaughter.

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When Real Madrid played their own reserve team in the Copa del Rey final (4)

The Santiago Bernabeu hosted the 1980 European Cup final as well as the Copa del Rey showpiece (Photo: Peter Robinson – PA Images via Getty Images).

Javier Castaneda (Castilla captain who later became the most-capped Osasuna player in La Liga before Patxi Punal broke his record in 2011): I understood that we couldn’t beat Madrid and there were some instructions — not to lose exactly — but to say that we shouldn’t kick them, that we should take it easy.

If we had played Atletico, Castilla would probably have won the Copa del Rey. We were a very strong team, with a lot of quality — otherwise, we wouldn’t have knocked those teams out.

I remember (then-Atletico manager) Luis Aragones was asked which team he preferred to play against and he said “everyone except Castilla”.

Jose Antonio Camacho (Real Madrid left-back who would spend 16 years at the club and later coached Spain and Madrid): We were used to playing together during the week. It was bizarre to play with bibs on a Thursday and in a final on Sunday.

From the federation or even from the club itself, there was a comment as if to say: “F***, don’t play the match during the week just before the final, it doesn’t make sense.”

Regardless of how we did in that final, we knew that three or four players from Castilla were going to play in the first team the following year. You could see them. Bear in mind that I had to mark the best players in the world and many times the best players were from Castilla.

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It was in the back of our minds that if we were beaten by the reserve team, it was normal that measures could be taken. It’s clear that we had to come out well from the start because it was father against son, they had eliminated all the teams and we knew Castilla’s potential, so if we didn’t come out at 100 per cent they were going to get on our nerves.

Real Madrid did not go easy on their reserve team. Castilla looked overawed by the occasion and Real legends Juanito and Santillana both scored to make it 2-0 by half-time. The first team also had a point to prove after a season in which they had not sparkled, despite winning La Liga.

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Juanito (Castilla defender who was good friends with the late Madrid forward of the same name still idolised by fans, and who also played in that final): There were more people in the stadium supporting Castilla at the back, but the reality is that if Madrid lost, it would have been chaos.


They were team-mates with whom I was training and there was a lot at stake. A group of players who were finishing their careers were up against a group of kids who wanted to take on the world. It was a bit of a battle.

I had a very good relationship with all of them (the first team) because I trained with them. I wanted to transmit the fury of Camacho, even if the style was different, or the on-field personality of Del Bosque, who was a player who would put a ball 40 metres out to you and all he would say was: “Boy, you run”.

🤝🏆 #OTD in 1980, we faced Castilla in a historic Spanish Cup final.
🆚 @RealMadriden 6-1 #RMCastilla@lafabricacrm | #RMHistory pic.twitter.com/OnfrXQzq2W

— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) June 4, 2021

I also liked the charisma that Juan Gomez (the forward Juanito) had. Madrid had a very united dressing room.

If the board went down to the dressing room? The board at that time didn’t want to influence, but they wanted it to be an entertaining game, a nice game, and they didn’t want the reserve team to provoke a violent situation by playing Real Madrid. The words were always: “This is a prize, you’ve already won everything…”

They conveyed calmness, they didn’t tell you that you had to win the game.

Camacho: If the directors went down to the dressing room of Castilla to ask for calm? I don’t see that very clearly, the thing is that if we went out at 100 per cent, it was us. We went a lot to see Castilla’s cup games against Sporting, against La Real and man, the stadium was full.

When Real Madrid played their own reserve team in the Copa del Rey final (6)

Jose Antonio Camacho (left) made 577 appearances for Real Madrid (Photo: Keystone/Getty Images).

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The gap grew wider after half-time thanks to goals from Andres Sabido and Del Bosque. Castilla pulled one back through Ricardo Alvarez in the 80th minute, but an effort from Francisco Garcia Hernandez and a penalty converted by Madrid’s Juanito confirmed Castilla’s drubbing. Players from both sides paraded the cup and swapped shirts at the end of the game.


Jesus Paredes (Castilla’s second coach and physical trainer who later worked for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team): In the final, we were all a little bit cold after winning against teams like Athletic and La Real. People expected a bit more from Castilla.

We fell apart as the goals started to fall, especially when they scored early. The team didn’t cope with it, there was too much pressure, too much expectation, while the first team players had their pride challenged, which was a motivation for them.

It was not an exercise in diplomacy on the part of Castilla. Castilla wanted to win and so did Madrid. Some (players) were unconvinced, but we didn’t live up to the expectations we had.

Castaneda: We got on well with everyone in the first team, but I remember I said to Juanito: “Hey, stop it for a bit”. It didn’t seem right to me, not so much because of the 6-1, but I think they could have taken it easy.

Juanito: When the first team scored the third, they relaxed. And we were like little brothers, like when your older brother comes and tells you: “Come on, kid, it’s been a happy day for the family”. And you believe it and you stand there as if you had won the cup. Then you get home and you realise that you haven’t.

Castaneda: The truth is that we were happy just to reach the final. You have to play the final because you have to play it. But our objective was not to play against Madrid, for us the cup was over before we played the final.

Camacho: Lifting the trophy together is something that comes spontaneously and in a natural way. Regardless of how the result turned out, we had played and played together for many years.

Ricardo Gallego (Castilla midfielder who went on to play for Real Madrid and Spain): In the photo with the cup, where we are all together, I’m the only one with the Castilla shirt. It took me a while to change the shirt because, at the end, I was very angry. And four days later I started training with the first team, just when I finished my compulsory military service.

Castilla may have lost the final, but they qualified for the Cup Winners’ Cup the following season. They faced West Ham United in the first round, winning the first leg 3-1 at the Bernabeu. But they crumbled in the return fixture, played behind closed doors at Upton Park due to crowd trouble in Madrid, going out 6-4 on aggregate.

Even so, there is unlikely to be another reserve team who matches the achievements of that Castilla side.

Paredes: In London, you could hear the voices echoing and they won in extra time, 5-1. It is also true that it was an English first-division team and that Juanito was injured.

Years later, we all met up for lunch or dinner and there were still a few reproaches: you should have passed it to me here or there (laughs).

It was more of a choral team than a team of individuals but, in the end, they all played in the first division. There were good players in all the lines, but without playing as a team, you don’t achieve anything.

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This story is the fruit of a job well done, the work of a cantera (youth academy).

(Top photos, left to right: Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images, Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images, Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images, Peter Robinson – PA Images via Getty Images; designed by Eamonn Dalton)


When Real Madrid played their own reserve team in the Copa del Rey final? ›

Real Madrid (reserves

Real Madrid (reserves
Real Madrid Castilla Club de Fútbol is a Spanish football team that plays in Primera Federación – Group 1 for the 2022–23 season. It is Real Madrid's reserve team. They play their home games at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium with a capacity of 6,000 seats.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Real_Madrid_Castilla
) in the Copa del Rey final. It is scarcely believable — and competition rules would not allow it today — but in the 1980 Copa del Rey final, Real Madrid played against their own reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla.

Can reserve teams play in Copa del Rey? ›

Since 1990 reserve teams are restricted to play in Copa del Rey.

When Real Madrid first team defeated their reserve team Castilla in a final? ›

The 1980 Copa del Rey final was the 78th final of the King's Cup, Spain's premier football competition. The final was played at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid, on 4 June 1980, and was won by Real Madrid, who beat their own reserve team Castilla 6–1.

Who is in the Real Madrid Copa del Rey squad? ›

Goalkeepers: Courtois, Lunin and Luis López. Defenders: Carvajal, Militão, Alaba, Vallejo, Nacho, Odriozola, Lucas V., Rüdiger and F. Mendy. Midfielders: Kroos, Modrić, Camavinga, Valverde, Tchouameni and D.

Why was Real Madrid disqualified from Copa del Rey? ›

Real Madrid have been expelled from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player. The 24-year-old spent last season on loan at Villarreal and accrued three bookings in Spain's biggest cup competition. And that earned him a one-game ban, meaning he should have sat out Wednesday night's fixture.

Can reserved players in soccer ever be played? ›

A "reserve" may commonly be used to describe the same person, but is more correctly used to describe someone who is 'owned' by the same team, but isn't on the team-sheet that day, so isn't officially allowed to play - part of 'the squad' but not part of the official team.

How many reserve players can a football team have? ›

How many substitute players are there in football? There can be nine players on the reserve bench and five players can be used during a game.

Which team never lost to Real Madrid? ›

The Gunners are the only European team Real Madrid have failed to score against in the prestigious continental competition.

What is the biggest lost against Real Madrid? ›

Heaviest Defeats
1Mar 5, 19308:1
2Dec 31, 19507:1
3Dec 21, 19477:1
4Jun 9, 19996:0
1 more row

Which team humiliated Real Madrid? ›

La Liga leaders Real Madrid suffered their heaviest defeat in over four years as reigning champions Atletico Madrid overpowered them in a scintillating derby in February 2015.

Who is the nemesis of Real Madrid? ›

Barcelona is the nemesis of almost all major Spanish teams.

Which Real Madrid squad was the best? ›

'16/17 Real Madrid was arguably the best version of Real Madrid of the entire decade. They were absolutely relentless and ruthless winners under Zinedine Zidane.

Who is the best player in Real Madrid team? ›

Currently the best midfielder in Real Madrid is Vinicius Junior. With a total of 9 assists he is number 18 of all top European players. Who is the best striker in Real Madrid 2022/2023? At the moment Karim Benzema is the top scorer of Real Madrid With 17 goals he is ranked 2 in the La Liga.

Why is Real Madrid half empty? ›

The Santiago Bernabeu has been undergoing a huge renovation project since 2020, improving the huge stadium in a variety of ways. According to Alley Sports, the lower tier seats remained covered thanks to significant work being undertaken to create a removable pitch.

What is Barcelona biggest loss in Copa del Rey? ›

Sevilla 8-0 FC Barcelona (1946)

Barcelona's biggest loss yet and the third against Sevilla. The Catalan club conceded eight goals in the first leg of the round of 16 in the Copa del Rey.

Do reserves get paid football? ›

If not how is he compensated? Yes, injured reserve for a football-related injury is a status that allows a team to retain an injured player and free up his roster spot while the he is out, but the price is that the injured player receives 1/17 of his salary for each week on IR.

Can a reserve player play in a match? ›

Reserve players are players who are under contract to a football club or a team but do not normally play in matches for the first team. Reserve teams often include back-up players from the starting-lineup and substitutes.

Can soccer players play over 40? ›

Exceptionally well-conditioned and physically fit players who keep their match fitness into their older years will often retire between 35 – 39. But very players are playing top level professional at the age of 40.

Do injured reserve players get paid? ›

Yes, NFL players on IR get paid during the playoffs, just like players on the active team roster.

What is 4 goals in football called? ›

@FootballRamble. For reference: 2 = brace, 3 = hat-trick, 4 = haul, 5 = glut, 6 = double hat-trick, 7 = haul-trick.

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A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous. All items of jewellery (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are forbidden and must be removed. Using tape to cover jewellery is not permitted.

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In the modern era, the Madrid derby is the second biggest derby in Spanish football, behind El Clásico, and although Real Madrid have the larger worldwide fanbase, Atlético Madrid have also amassed a significant worldwide fanbase, due to their level of success in the Champions League and Europa League in the early 21st ...

What is Real Madrid biggest win all time? ›

What is Real Madrid biggest ever win in history? Real Madrid's biggest ever victory came in the 1943 edition of the Copa del Generalisimo, a previous incarnation of the Copa del Rey. Los Blancos defeated arch-rivals Barcelona 11-1, but the story behind that result is even more shocking that the result itself.

What is Real Madrid biggest winning? ›

Real Madrid 11-1 Barcelona, June 13, 1943

The biggest Real Madrid win is against their fiercest rival, FC Barcelona, in what some would say is the most controversial El Classico in history. It was a match in “Copa del Generalisimo” or today more popular as Copa del Rey.

What was Madrid biggest win against Barca? ›

Almost 80 years ago in the 1942/1943 campaign, Real Madrid ran out 11-1 winners against Barcelona. To this day, this crazy match boasts the prize of being the biggest win in the Clasico. The 11-1 rout happened in the semi-final, second-leg tie in the Copa Generalisimo, today's Copa del Rey, on June 13, 1943.

Which player has scored the most goals against Real Madrid? ›

Lionel Messi - Record against Real Madrid | Transfermarkt.

Who has the most wins against Real Madrid? ›


Who is better Barcelona or Real Madrid? ›

Of the 250 competitive matches, Real Madrid have won the most, with 101 wins to Barca's 97 (and 52 draws). Barcelona have more wins in exhibition matches with 20 to Madrid's four (and 10 draws). In total matches, Barcelona lead the way with 116 wins to Madrid's 105 (and 62 draws).

What is the biggest defeat in football history? ›

AS Adema 149–0 SO l'Emyrne was a football match played on 31 October 2002 between two teams in Toamasina, Madagascar.

Has Messi scored 5 goals in a match? ›

Messi scored five goals against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the round of 16 in 2012. The only other player to score five goals in a Champions League game is Luiz Adriano, who did it against BATE Borisov in the group stage in 2015.

Has Real Madrid ever gone undefeated? ›

Los Blancos are undefeated in all 16 games in 2022-23 and their unbeaten run stretches to 20 games, 16 wins and four draws.

Has Real Madrid ever lost a semi final? ›

In the 1975-76 season, Real Madrid lost 2-0 against Bayern Munich in the second leg of their semifinal matchup.

Who is the only team to beat Real Madrid in a European final? ›

The match went into extra time, with the winning goal scored for Aberdeen by John Hewitt in the 112th minute. Aberdeen won the match 2–1 and won their first European trophy.
1983 European Cup Winners' Cup final.
Match programme cover
Event1982–83 European Cup Winners' Cup
Aberdeen Real Madrid 2 1
After extra time
Date11 May 1983
4 more rows

What was Real Madrid's best season of all time? ›

The 2016–17 season was one of the most successful campaigns in the history of Real Madrid. The club attained four titles, including a La Liga and Champions League double, a feat only achieved twice before by Real (in 1956–57 and 1957–58).

Who is the best number 9 in Real Madrid? ›

Karim Benzema
Personal information
Team information
Current teamReal Madrid
22 more rows

What was Real Madrid's trio? ›

For several years, Real Madrid experienced huge success with Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in midfield — the trio who came to be known as 'CMK' in the Spanish press. That combination helped Madrid win three Champions League titles in a row from 2016-2018 and four in five years, as well as last year's triumph.

Who is best footballer in history? ›

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2Diego Maradona293
3Lionel Messi803
4Cristiano Ronaldo834
6 more rows
Apr 6, 2023

Who is Barcelona biggest legend? ›

Messi is probably Barcelona's greatest player ever. The 35 trophies he won for Barca make him the club record holder of the player with the most trophies among the previous and current Barcelona players.

Who is better than Messi? ›

Messi vs Ronaldo Stats and Comparison of Goal, Trophies
Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Club Appearances849964
Club Goals703713
Club Trophies3629
Hat tricks5760
6 more rows
Mar 23, 2023

Which 3 teams never relegated from La Liga? ›

The Spanish Primera División was born in 1929, and only Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have been present ever since.

Who has the longest no loss streak in La Liga? ›

Games without scoring
  • Most consecutive league games without scoring: 8, joint record: ...
  • Most consecutive league games without scoring at home: 7, Athletic Bilbao (6 January 1996 to 7 April 1996)
  • Most consecutive league games without scoring away: 12, Deportivo La Coruña (17 January 1965 to 4 December 1966)

Who has missed the most penalties in La Liga? ›

Penalties missed
L. Messi14-
R. Tamudo12-
C. Ronaldo11-
F. Torres10-
16 more rows

Why is Real Madrid playing 3 away games in a row? ›

Real Madrid have made an official request to La Liga to play their first three matches away from home due to renovation works, say Marca. It is anticipated that La Liga will accept this request as they did with Atletico Madrid two seasons ago, when their Wanda Metropolitano home was being finalised.

Why Real Madrid goal was disallowed? ›

Was Real Madrid's winning goal offside? There was no question about the goal scorer, Vinicius, being onside, but Benzema was in an offside position when Valverde played the ball across the edge of the 6-yard box. Had the ball touched Benzema in any way, the goal would have been disallowed.

Why is Real Madrid in black? ›

Why are Real Madrid wearing black in El Clasico. The reason for Real Madrid's black kits is that they have partnered with Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, whose signature style is black. The result is a fourth kit that is all-black, with the Adidas stripes, numbers and lettering all in white.

Who beats Barcelona the most? ›

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Head-to-head
CompetitionGamesMadrid wins
La Liga18677
Copa del Rey3612
Champions League83
Other competitions*239
1 more row
Apr 5, 2023

Is it true that Barca beat real by 15 1? ›

There has never been a scoreline that reads Barcelona 15–1 Real Madrid in the history of football. During the 1926 Copa del Rey, Barcelona beat Real Madrid 8–1 in the quarter-finals, which was decided over two legs: 1st leg: Real Madrid 1–5 FC Barcelona.

Which club has beaten Barca the most? ›

Dundee United – The Only Team That has Beaten Barcelona Every time They Met. Barcelona did play a friendly against Dundee United in 2007. The Catalans won the game 5-1 and Lionel Messi was among the Goalscorers, but in official head to head and official matches, Barcelona have never beaten Dundee United… Now you Know!

How are teams chosen for Copa del Rey? ›

Teams qualified to enter via their regional leagues. Over the years, various formats, including group stages have been used. Reserve teams of the professional clubs, who compete in lower divisions of the league pyramid, were permitted to take part until 1990.

Who can participate in Copa America? ›

The Copa América is governed by the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (commonly known as CONMEBOL), and the tournament's field consists of the 10 national teams that are members of CONMEBOL—Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela—plus two additional national teams ...

What does reserve roster mean? ›

Reserve Roster means those Players who are not on the Senior Roster and who do not count against the Team Salary Budget.

Do North American teams play in Copa America? ›

The competition determines the champions of South America. Since the 1990s, teams from North America and Asia have also been invited to compete.

Who has more trophies Barca or Madrid? ›

Real Madrid and Barcelona's overall 'major' trophy wins

All in all, that means that – drum roll, please – Real Madrid have lifted a total of 71 'major' trophies, compared to Barcelona's 67.

Which club has the most Copa del Rey titles? ›

Copa del Rey: all-time winners 1902-2023

FC Barcelona has won more Copa del Rey championships than any other Spanish soccer team with 31 titles in total. Shortly following FC Barcelona within this ranking was Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid with 23 and 19 titles in total respectively.

What does Copa del Rey mean in English? ›

The Copa del Rey, or King's Cup, is the domestic cup competition in Spanish football — the equivalent of the English FA Cup, or the Coppa Italia or Germany's DFB-Pokal.

Can Mexico go to the Copa America? ›

Mexico are not members of the South American football confederation CONMEBOL, but because CONMEBOL only has ten member associations, guest nations have regularly been invited to participate in the Copa América since 1993. Mexico have been the most regular invitee, competing in ten consecutive Copas from 1993 to 2016.

Has Mexico ever won Copa America? ›

Among the non-original nations, none have so far won the tournament; Mexico have been closest with two second places.

How can USA qualify for Copa America? ›

The U.S. will have to win just one of two potential home-and-away series against Concacaf opposition to qualify for the 2024 Copa América, the regional governing body revealed Tuesday as it unveiled its 2023-25 senior men's competition structure.

What is a reserve soccer team? ›

reserve team. noun [ C ] /rɪˈzɝːv ˌtiːm/ uk. /rɪˈzɜːv ˌtiːm/ in soccer, a team consisting of players who are not in the first team, but who play in a league against reserve teams from other clubs.

Who won the most Copa América? ›

Image of Who won the most Copa América?
The Brazil women's national football team represents Brazil in international women's football and is run by the Brazilian Football Confederation. It has participated in eight editions of the FIFA Women's World Cup, finishing as runner-up in 2007, and seven editions of the Copa América Femenina.

Which country has the most Copa América trophies? ›

In the Copa America era, Brazil has proved to be the most successful nation, winning the competition six times, followed by Uruguay claiming the top honours four times while Argentina have won the continental trophy thrice, including the most recent edition in 2021.

Will the US be in the next Copa América? ›

The 2024 Copa America, arguably the most competitive international soccer tournament outside the World Cup, will be played in the United States — and the U.S. men's national team will likely participate.


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