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Cupset Alert: The Biggest Underdogs Still Alive In European Domestic Cups

It's now early January, which means the busy holiday fixture list gives way to the equally lively middle rounds of domestic cup competitions.

The early rounds of domestic cups are frenzied affairs, with obscurely named sides earning rare upsets but more frequently earning massive defeats. The later rounds are more sanitized, with top-flight sides dominating the proceedings. 

Most cups have completed a few rounds already, leaving us in the ambiguous middle rounds of the competitions. The first-division sides have entered but there are still are few minnows alive with a hope and a dream of reaching the final. 

Let's take a look at the biggest remaining underdogs in each of Europe's five most prominent domestic cup competitions.

Biggest Underdogs Still Remaining In Domestic Cups

FA Cup

Kidderminster Harriers (6th tier)

One of four non-league sides still remaining in the competition, Kidderminster is one of the most historic non-league sides in English football. Founded in 1886, the Harriers have spent their entire existence at Aggborough Stadium, although they were famously denied promotion to the Football League in 1994 due to the deteriorating state of their ground.

Improvements were made, and in 2000 the club reached League Two for the first time ever. Kidderminster's best finish in the FA Cup came in 1993-94 when the club made it to the fifth round (last 16) before falling to West Ham. Since then, Harriers have reached the third round four times (including this year). The squad has a third-round home tie against second-tier Reading on Jan. 8.

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Copa del Rey

Atlético Mancha Real (4th tier)

Since its formation in 1984, the Manchegos have slowly moved up the Spanish footballing pyramid, starting in the seventh tier and reaching as high as the third tier for one season in 2016-17. This is only the third time in Mancha Real history the club has qualified for the Copa del Rey, and it is the first time it has advanced past the first round.

Led by 43-year-old captain Óscar Quesada (who didn't reach the professional level until he was 35), Mancha Real knocked off LaLiga side Granada for the most famous win in club history. A Round of 32 (third round) match awaits against Athletic Bilbao on Jan. 6.

Coupe de France

Bergerac Périgord FC, FC Versailles 78 (4th tier)

This one was too close to call, as both clubs compete in the Championnat National 2, the French fourth tier, but in different groups within the division. Bergerac Foot leads its group but has two fewer points than Versailles — which is second in Group A. 

Versailles had the easier route to the Round of 16, having not faced any club from a higher division, while Bergerac Foot upset Ligue 1 side Metz in the Round of 64. The Round of 16 draw, which just took place, gave both clubs home ties. Bergerac Foot will host Saint-Étienne, the last-place team in Ligue 1, while Versailles drew Toulouse — currently second in Ligue 2.

Coppa Italia 

U.S. Lecce (2nd tier)

Lecce is the only second-tier side remaining in a sea of Serie A clubs, but I Gialloross will feel confident after a 2-0 road win against top-tier Spezia in the previous round. Lecce is a classic yo-yo club, being promoted or relegated 10 times in the 21st century. They were relegated to Serie C in 2012 after the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal, which also resulted in former club president Giovanni Semeraro receiving a five-year suspension from football activities — the harshest punishment for anyone involved.

The club has produced a number of notable players over the years, including current Tottenham manager Antonio Conte, former Juventus and Roma striker Mirko Vučinić and Italian international Graziano Pellè. Lecce will face Roma in the Round of 16 of the Coppa Italia on Jan. 20. 

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TSV 1860 Munich (3rd tier)

1860 Munich was one of four 3. Liga sides to qualify for the DFB-Pokal by finishing in the top four of the third tier. The Lions have historically been a first- and second-division side, although they have twice been relegated due to financial difficulties. The most recent punishment was handed down in 2017, which sent the club from the second to the fourth tier.

1860 Munich has spent the last four seasons in the third tier and last advanced past the Round of 16 in 2007-08 — back when the Bender twins Lars and Sven were anchoring the midfield. They face 2. Bundesliga side Karlsruher on Jan. 18 for a place in the DFB-Pokal quarterfinals. 

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