Copa del Rey: Espanyol vs Barcelona - Preview, Team News, Prediction, Betting Odds
Can Espanyol overturn a first-leg deficit?
Following a heated affair in the first leg of the Copa del Rey at the Camp Nou, Barcelona and Espanyol renew hostilites again at the Cornella El-Prat in an yet another Catalan derby as the sides meet in the return leg. The Blaugrana hold a healthy 3-goal advantage over their lesser glamourous neighbours, having fought back from a goal down to eventually clinch the tie 4-1 over the 9-men visitors.
The game was severely marred by fights, brawls, angry exchanges and cards as Espanyol saw two of their men sent off amidst the tense atmosphere. Barcelona ace Luis Suarez was later handed a two-match suspension after inciting a fight in the tunnel at half-time.
Naturally, the tensions are still simmering over the Derbi Barceloni and the managers of both sides, Constantin Galca and Luis Enrique, have called for calming the waters ahead of their third encounter in 11 days.
Kickoff and Telecast
Date and Time: 14th January 2016 – 01:30 AM (IST)
Telecast: The game is not scheduled for a live broadcast in India.
Venue: Cornella El-Prat, Barcelona
Espanyol will be without midfielders Pape Diop and Hernan Perez, who are suspended for clash after collecting a red card in the first leg last week. Anaitz Arbilla, Jose Canas (both foot) and Victor Sanchez (thigh) are also set to be sidelined from the clash.
Barcelona enter the tie in a really fine fettle as they don’t have any new injury concerns to contend with. However, they will travel without Luis Suarez in the team as the Uruguayan was handed a two-match ban by the Spanish FA.
Espanyol (4-2-3-1): P Lopez; J Lopez, Raillo, Roco, Alvarez; Jordan, Abraham; Burgui, Moreno, Asensio; Caicedo
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Turan, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Neymar, Roberto
Espanyol are currently in a miserable vein of form. They have now gone four games without a win in all competitions, including a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Eibar over the weekend, and manager Constantin Galca is increasingly coming under pressure.
The Periquitos showed some mettle in the 0-0 draw against their mightier rivals Barcelona in the opening game of the calendar year, but haven’t been able to replicate it in the subsequent games, pulling off a string of disappointing results, including the 4-1 drubbing at Camp Nou last Wednesday.
The only shining light for the beleaguered Catalonia side is that they are unbeaten at home in the last 7 games.
Last 5 matches: W-L-D-L-L (Last match: Eibar 2-1 Espanyol)
Barcelona cannot be more buoyed when they take to the field this midweek. In Monday's Ballon d’Or gala at Zurich, Lionel Messi was crowned the world’s best player for an unprecedented fifth time, whilst manager Luis Enrique took home the prize for the Manager of the Year.
After the blip on new year’s day away at Espanyol, the European champions have hit back strongly, winning 4-1 and 4-0 in the Copa and league games respectively. The defending champions are well placed to progress to the last 8 and will look to seal the deal by throwing another spanner in Espanyol’s works.
Last 5 matches: W-W-D-W-W (Last match: Barcelona 4-0 Granada)
- Barcelona are on a 14-game unbeaten run against Espanyol, a run that stretches back to 2009.
- Messi has been involved in all the 8 goals that Barcelona have scored so far in 2016, scoring 5 times and assisting thrice.
- Barcelona have maintained a clean-sheet in each of their last three visits to Cornella El-Prat.
- This is be the 164th Catalan derby in the history, with Barcelona the dominant side with 93 wins compared to a paltry 34 to Espanyol.
Felipe Caicedo vs Gerard Pique
Espanyol striker Felipe Caicedo will once again lead the line for Blanquiazules, shouldering the striking burden for his side. The former Manchester City man was on target in the first leg last week, putting his aside ahead as early as the ninth minute with a neat finish, and will ensure that Barcelona don’t have an easy passage to the next round by creating all sorts of problems upfront. And also possibly, claim another goal to his name.
He is a strapping forward, armed with a well-built physique and eye for goal. Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique will have to contain this dynamite which could otherwise cause nuisance at the back.
Although the visitors already have one foot in the quater-finals, Pique must deal with Caceido adroitly to prevent any last-minute glitches.
Espanyol have revenge on their minds after the fracas at the Catalanonian capital last week, but a 3-goal deficit is too much to overturn. The home side will take heart from their valiant showing in the 0-0 draw 10 days ago, but a repeat of the feat is high unlikely this time around.
Barcelona are definitely the form team coming into the match, and there’s little doubt about them swimming through to the quarter-finals.
Predicted score: Espanyol 1-3 Barcelona
Betting Odds (bet365)
Espanyol – 17/2
Draw – 9/2
Barcelona – 3/10