Malaga vs Barcelona preview

January 23, 2013
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Barcelona vs MalagaLa Rosaleda is sold out for the highly anticipated return leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final clash against Barcelona, with fans hoping Malaga can build on the 2-2 draw at Camp Nou and eliminate their more illustrious opponents.

The Catalans are in problems after losing to Real Sociedad at the weekend, but they, nonetheless, remain favourites to go through.

Malaga have done brilliantly in the first part of the season, recording some excellent results on all three fronts despite the pretty small squad at Manuel Pellegrini’s disposal.

However, the hectic schedule was always going to take the wind out of their sails and that seems to have happened few weeks ago.

Los Boquerones have now won just one of their last five fixtures in all competitions, but the 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie against Barcelona can give the players reason for optimism ahead of the match at La Rosaleda.

Despite the excellent result in the first leg, Malaga are 3.40 (12/5) with Ladbrokes to qualify for the semi-finals, which has something to do with the fact that star playmaker Isco is very doubtful with an ankle problem.

Javier Saviola, however, returns to the side, but Nacho Monreal is suspended and Julio Baptista is out injured.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Caballero – Sanchez, Demichelis, Weligton, Eliseu – Toulalan, Iturra – Joaquin, Duda, Buonanotte – Santa Cruz.

Following some scintillating showings in the first part of the season, Barcelona have suffered two straight setbacks last week, but that is still not a cause for concern.

After the severely weakened line-up failed to beat Malaga in Copa del Rey, full-strength Catalans squandered a two-goal lead to lose at Anoeta, with Pique’s sending off playing a big part in the 3-2 defeat.

However, seeing Barcelona are still eight points clear of Atletico Madrid in the La Liga standings, they are unlikely to be too downhearted by the latest setback and should have no problems concentrating on the return leg against Malaga.

Having recorded a 3-1 win at La Rosaleda some ten days ago, the Catalans look a good bet to win this game as well, with Coral paying 1.44 (4/9) on away win.

David Villa is likely to start after recovering from a hamstring problem and the forward is 2.00 (1/1) with Stan James to score against Malaga.

Considering the importance of the match, Tito Vilanova is unlikely to make wholesale changes to his starting line-up.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Pinto – Adriano, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba – Xavi, Busquets, Thiago – Pedro, Messi, Villa.

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