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Fresh from a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Getafe in La Liga on Sunday, FC Barcelona are back at Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday at 9pm CET, this time in a single-leg quarter final of the Copa del Rey against Real Sociedad.
Barça go into this game in fine form, still unbeaten in all competitions since club football resumed after the World Cup. But so are the Basques, who are on a five-match winning spree in La Liga that has seen rise up to third in the table.
How they got here
Barça have made it into the quarter finals by beating two third-tier sides. Intercity of Alicante proved to be a much tougher challenge than expected and were only beaten 4-3 after extra time, but the Catalans made much lighter work of Ceuta in the last sixteen, romping home to a 5-0 win.
As they were not involved in the Spanish Super Cup, Real have had a longer journey to get here. Cazalegas and Coria of the lower leagues were despatched with relative ease in the opening rounds, 4-1 and 5-0, but UD Logroñés put up a sterner challenge in the last 32.
Real won that one 1-0 and then faced first division opposition in Mallorca last week, Roberto Navarro’s 5th minute goal eventually proving enough to get the job done.
It's the first time since 2016/17 that the two sides have met in the cup. That was also a quarter final, but over two legs. Then coached by Luis Enrique, Barça won 1-0 at Anoeta and then cruised to a 5-2 win at home. With Xavi Hernández among the players, Barça and Real Sociedad also met in 2013/14, this time in the semi-finals, and Barça also won, 3-1 on aggregate.
But, of course, the teams have met many times since then in La Liga, and Barça can take heart from their meeting at Anoeta in the second game of the current league season. Both teams scored early and the 1-1 scoreline held until the 68th minute when goals in rapid succession from Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembélé as good as wrapped things up. Ten minutes later, Ansu Fati added a fourth to make absolutely sure of the win.
Xavi has a full-strength squad for this one, including Lewandowski and Ferran Torres, who were suspended for the league game but are OK to play in this one.
He named a list of 23 players although one of those names will need to be dropped for the actual game.
Real, in contrast, have no fewer than six players missing, including Mikel Merino, who picked up an injury against Mallorca in the previous round.
“In the Super Cup everything worked for us and we were perfect. The other day didn’t go so well. You aren’t going to be at your best every day.”
“We’ll need the fans for this one. It would be great to have 80,000 people like the other day. It should be a great game against a very decent side. Real let in very few goals.”
“We’ll decide whether or not to play Iñaki Peña tomorrow. I don’t like giving things away and not even the players know the side yet.”
"Marc is in spectacular form. Perhaps his best form since he came to Barça. He’s like the Ter Stegen of my final year here.”
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