Barcelona will look to get back to winning ways tonight when they host Spanish third division side Real Murcia at the Nou Camp for the second leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 clash.
Not much as changed with Barcelona since the last time these two sides met. They’re still at the top of the La Liga, they are still unbeaten so far this season and have secured their place in knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, winning their group.
After their 0-3 defeat against Barcelona in the first leg at the Estadio Nueva Condomina, Los Pimentoneros have vastly improved, winning 5 of their last 6 matches, conceding only 2 goals in that process. They’ve also moved from 16th in the League, to fifth position.
Team News & Tactics
In the first leg, Barcelona crusied to a comfortable victory with a largely second string side and it is likely that they will rest a few first team regulars tonight. However, they are expected to be without Arda Turan, Javier Mascherano, Ousmane Dembele, Andre Gomes and Rafinha through injury.
Jasper Cillessen will likely come back into the starting XI for this tie, Aleix Vidal is expected to start at right back after being included in the squad against Valencia. Gerard Pique will likely come in alongside Thomas Vermaelen, after missing out their last match.
Lucas Digne is expected to start at left-back ahead of Jordi Alba as well. Youngsters Denis Suarez and Carles Alena, who started in the first leg, will likely come back into the squad and join either Paulinho, Ivan Rakitic or Sergio Busquets in midfield.
Jose Arnaiz, who scored in the first leg after starting on left wing will also likely be rewarded with another first team call up. Gerard Deulofeu, another socrer from that night will also likely come back into the squad after being left out at the Mestalla and Paco Alcacer is expected to lead the line once again.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Jasper Cillessen; Aleix Vidal, Gerard Pique, Thomas Vermaelen, Lucas Digne; Carles Alena, Paulinho, Denis Suarez; Gerard Deulofeu, Paco Alcacer, Jose Arnaiz
Jose Maria Salmeron is expected to field a near similar side to the one that started in their last victory against CD Badajoz. Shotstopper Biel Ribas, defenders Alex Ortiz, Pedro Orfila and David Fornies are all expected to retain their places, but Juanra will likely come in ahead of Federico Vega.
In midfield, Armando Ortiz is expected to hold on to his place, but Fernando Llorente will likely make way for David Sanchez. Further upfront, Jordan Dominguez, Fran Carnicer and Santi Jara are all expected to start tonight with Salva Chammoro leading the line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Biel Ribas; Juanra, Alex Ortiz, Pedro Orfila, David Fornies; Armando Ortiz, David Sanchez; Santi Jara, Fran Carnicer, Jordan Dominguez; Salvo Chammora
- Barcelona have scored 16 goals in their last 5 matches against Real Murcia.
- Real Murcia have scored a minimum of 3 goals in 3 of their last 4 Copa del Rey matches,
- Barcelona’s overall record against Real Murcia is 31 wins, 7 draws and 5 defeats.
- Real Murcia have conceded a minimum of 2 goals in their last 5 matches against Barcelona in all competitions.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in 19 games across all competitions this season.
Player To Watch
The Spaniard is expected to start once again tonight, as he did in the first leg. He got off the mark this season by scoring against Murcia in the first leg. In 7 games this season, he has contributed to 3 goals and 2 assists.
While opportunities have come few and far in between for the former Valencia man, he has performed well whenever called upon and tonight would be a good opportunity for him to show Valverde what he can do, and possibly try and force his way into the starting XI ahead of an out-of-form, but far more esteemed Luis Suarez.
Barcelona 3-0 Real Murcia
The Catalan giants are expected to get back to winning ways after playing out two consecutive draws against Juventus and Valencia. Valverde will likely take the opportunity to rest a number of his key players, but that still leaves Barcelona with a tremendous amount of quality in the side.
Real Murcia have improved considerably since their last match against Barcelona, but the gulf of quality between the two sides is just too much. It is unlikely that they will be able to trouble even a largely second string Barcelona side and we predict a comfortable victory for Ernesto Valverde’s men at the Nou Camp tonight.