Copa del Rey’s quarters return-legs to kick-off in Spain
Madrid, Jan 26 (IANS) The quarter-finals return-legs of the Copa del Rey Cup knockout football tournament will be played on Wednesday and Thursday nights in Spain.
Atletico Madrid and Celta de Vigo are the first sides in action at the Vicente Calderon Stadium here and although the hosts are favourites to progress to the last four, they will have to be careful following a goalless draw in Vigo a week ago, reports Xinhua.
Celta’s form has dropped off recently after an excellent first half to the season, but an away goal would leave Atletico needing to score twice in order to avoid an exit from the competition.
Cup holders FC Barcelona face Athletic Club Bilbao the same night with the latter defending their 2-1 first leg win and clear favourites to progress, given that Athletic would need to win 2-0 or 3-2 in order to qualify.
Barcelona looked jaded at the weekend following their efforts in the first leg and with a decisive league tie at home to Atletico Madrid the coming Sunday, coach Luis Enrique may be tempted to make some squad rotations, especially if Neymar is still carrying the muscle problem which sidelined him in Malaga.
Meanwhile Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez is available again following suspension.
On Thursday, Sevilla will be favourites to successfully defend a 2-0 first leg lead away against second division side Mirandes, but they will also be wary given that the hosts probably deserved a better result in the Sanchez Pizquan Stadium.
Las Palmas can make life even more uncomfortable for Gary Neville at Valencia as they look to build on their 1-1 away draw in the return leg of their tie. Valencia have not won in seven league matches under Neville, who has so far been able to use Valencia’s Cup run as a defence, should his side exit that competition, the pressure for the weekend league game at home to Sporting would be immense.
Meanwhile Las Palmas can’t be happy they had to play a league game against Levante on Monday night, meaning they have less time to prepare for Thursday’s game.