After winning in Málaga in the Liga and Valencia in the last 6 days, the Pericos receive the reigning Cup winners, FC Barcelona, in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. Espanyol occupies the 14th position in the table, adding 24 points in the first 19 games played. The parakeet team broke their bad start of the season with an important victory against Real Celta (2-1 in the 4th round), which continued with a draw at Villarreal (0-0) and another win at home, against Deportivo de La Coruña (4-1). However, the Catalan team lost in their visit to the Santiago Bernabéu just before the international break (2-0). The goalless draw at home, against Levante, and the draw of the next game in Anoeta (1-1) gave way to a home win against Real Betis (1-0) and the surprising defeat in Vitoria before the break November (1-0). After the resumption, the team fell at home against Valencia (0-2), beat Getafe (1-0) days later and since then has only added one point after losing in Ipurúa (3-1), at home against Girona, and draw at Las Palmas (2-2), before firing the 2017 defeating Atlético de Madrid (1-0). The good run continued with victory at La Rosaleda (0-1) and the Cup comeback in the Ciutat de Valencia (0-2) but last weekend, the team tied at 1 against Athletic Club de Bilbao.
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This is the second season with Quique Sánchez Flores in charge, an ambitious project in which the Barcelona club has invested in the return of one of its maximum standards of the last decade, striker Sergio García. After confirming the definitive purchase of Diego Lopez to AC Milan and Pablo Piatti to Valencia, the parakeet team has been reinforced with another excellent veteran, the former Madrid Real Esteban Granero, who comes free from Real Sociedad. Also comes the white canterano Mario Hermoso, a central 22 years who shone at Real Madrid Castilla last season. As for the chapter of casualties, the forward Mamadou Sylla, sold to KAS Eupen for 2.3 million; left-back Rubén Duarte, transferred to Alavés for 400,000 euros; and the midfielder Joan Jordán, who goes to Eibar for 100000 euros. In addition, Víctor Álvarez goes free to the Russian Arsenal Tula, the goal Roberto is transferred to Málaga; of letting free the Andalusians José Antonio Reyes and Salva Sevilla, while finally, Felipe Caicedo was transferred to Lazio.
Eleven Probable: Pau Lopez – Javi Lopez, David Lopez, Hermoso, Aarón Martín – Jury, Javi Fuego, Piatti, Marc Roca – Baptistao, Gerard Moreno.
FC Barcelona has 51 of the 57 possible points, 9 more than Atlético de Madrid, which is second. The champion, Real Madrid, is already 16 points but has one game less.
After tying one in his visit to the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium, his first non-victory in the 13 official matches he had played between the Santander League and the Champions League, the team has won 5 consecutive victories (the 3-1 triumph against Olympiacos in the first leg, the victory against Málaga and Athletic Club, both by 2-0, and the aforementioned game against the Seville, and the victory in Copa del Rey in Murcia by 0-3), a broken streak with the draw in Athens against Olympiacos (0-0). Subsequently, the team won Sevilla (2-1) and Leganés (0-3), before tying without goals in Turin, in a match in which they secured the first place in their group in the Champions League. A draw in Valencia (1-1) and another at home, against Celta (2-1) have humanized a team that thrashed Deportivo de La Coruña (4-0) and Real Madrid (0-3) in the last two days of 2017. At the premiere of 2018, Barca easily unraveled Levante (3-0), coming back last Sunday in Anoeta a game that was 2-0 to end up winning by 2-4.
In sports, the recently signed Coutinho is low for being injured, while Yerri Mina arrives to cover the march of Mascherano to China.
Eleven Probable: Cillessen – Semedo, Vermaelen, Piqué, Alba – Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic – Dembélé, Suárez, Messi.
Barça come to this match winning the last 6 duels since the goalless draw of the league match played two years ago. The forecast is that Barça will win and they will score more than 2.5 goals in this match.
Our betting predictions: Victory of FC Barcelona and More than 2.5 goals