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Barça play Espanyol in the quarter final stage of the competition, having dispatched Celta Vigo in the Round of 16. Catalan derbies are always a big occasion, and only one team will extend their run in Spain’s top cup tournament.
Barça are going to have to make do without Andrés Iniesta, with a soleus injury in his right leg, and Javier Mascherano, with left thigh trouble. That’s in addition to the already injured Samuel Umtiti, Paco Alcácer, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembélé.
But on the plus side, the Barça boss regains the services of Nélson Semedo, who has been out for a few days with tonsillitis.
The Portuguese defender is back in the squad, which reads as follows: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Denis Suárez, Luis Suárez, Messi, Rafinha, Paulinho, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen and, from Barça B, Carles Aleñá (26).
Speaking on Tuesday, Ernesto Valverde said that "I see Espanyol in great form and their stats confirm that after recent results in the league and after coming back in the last round of the Copa against Levante. As well, they will try to take advantage of playing at home.”
For his part, Espanyol coach Quique Sánchez Flores told his pre-match conference that ""It’s all about motivation. Games against Barça generate an energy that we must use to our good on the field … Espanyol have never beaten Barça in Cornellà but a win is what every coach and every player has wanted … If there is any team that can make a difference by playing as unit then that team is Espanyol."
Barça made a brilliant comeback against Real Sociedad in LaLiga this past weekend, winning at Anoeta for the first time in over 10 years. They remain unbeaten this season, and so far in the Copa del Rey have eliminated both Real Murcia and Celta Vigo. The Blaugrana have scored 14 goals and conceded just once in the competition.
Espanyol bested Tenerife and Levante en route to the quarter finals. Los Pericos are currently riding a three-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and drew with Athletic Club last Sunday.
A hat-trick from Leo Messi and goals from Gerard Piqué and Luis Suárez gave Barça a 5-0 win against Espanyol last September in LaLiga.
In the Copa del Rey, the two sides have played one another on 18 occasions, with Barcelona winning out 13 times. Most recently, Barça progressed from the Round of 16 at their local rivals’ expense in 2016, winning 6-1 on aggregate.
The game will be broadcast on numerous channels around the world, but if for whatever reason you can’t get to see the game, there will be live English commentary on Radio Barça (the link will appear on the home page shortly before kick-off), and on our official Twitter account.
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