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Copa del Rey title-holders Barcelona will battle Espanyol in a Catalan derby in the quarter-finals of this season’s tournament as Friday’s draw revealed the last-eight fixtures.
Real Madrid defeated Numancia to reach the quarters and will face Leganes in the next stage of the competition, while rivals Atletico Madrid are set to take on Sevilla in a two-legged duel between two top-flight titans.
Leganes already took out one of La Liga’s heavy hitters by edging Villarreal 2-2 in the round of 16, triumphing on away goals, but they have a far more daunting task in attempting to beat Los Merengues.
High-flying Valencia will have been pleased to draw Alaves, the lowest-placed team remaining in the Copa del Rey, although the latter will be in high spirits after beating Formentera 5-1 on aggregate in the last round.
The Spanish football federation confirmed the quarter-final lineup on Friday (tweet in Spanish):
#SorteoCopa | Así quedan los cuartos de final de la #CopaDelRey 🏆
@CDLeganes 🆚 @realmadrid
@RCDEspanyol 🆚 @FCBarcelona_es
@Atleti 🆚 @SevillaFC
@valenciacf 🆚 @Alaves https://t.co/fXN98JmK7E
The first-leg fixtures will take place on Wednesday, January 17 and Thursday, January 18, with the return legs scheduled a week later on Wednesday, January 24 and Thursday, January 25.
Defending champions Barcelona remain undefeated in all competitions this season and booked their spot in the Copa quarters with an emphatic 5-0 hammering of Celta Vigo in the second leg of their round-of-16 meeting.
That happens to be the same scoreline by which the Blaugrana beat local rivals Espanyol when they last met back in September, with Lionel Messi contributing a hat-trick along with goals from Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique.
The two teams are already scheduled to clash at the RCDE Stadium on February 4 in the league, but their Copa del Rey addition means three meetings in the space of a little more than a fortnight.
Samuel Marsden of Catalan newspaper Sport noted a potential hiccup for Espanyol between now and then, however:
Samuel Marsden @samuelmarsden
Espanyol may have a new manager by then. Club have sounded out Javi Gracia in case QSF goes to Stoke.
Real may be content having drawn Leganes in the quarters despite the latter’s good form in the league this season, with manager Asier Garitano’s side making a remarkable rise to ninth in La Liga’s standings.
Their fixture in particular looks as though it will need some reworking, however, as Real Madrid TV presenter Phil Kitromilides highlighted the issues surrounding it at present:
Phil Kitromilides @PhilKitro
Leganes v RM in the Copa Del Rey next week. But Leganes are playing in La Liga on Monday night. So playing Tues or Weds out of the question. So Thursday then. But RM playing next Saturday at home to Depor in league. So that will be moved? Shambles.
Sevilla’s form in the Spanish top flight has dropped off of late, while Atletico have recovered from a poor start to climb to second behind Barca, but their encounter could be the quarter-final to watch out for.
Meanwhile, Valencia will fancy their chances of advancing past Alaves, who sit 18th in La Liga and a point from safety, although Los Che will be wary of the fact Abelardo Fernandez’s men have conceded just once in four Copa games so far this term.