Sports

Copa del Rey match report Espanyol v FC Barcelona 17 January 2018

Copa del Rey match report Espanyol v FC Barcelona 17 January 2018

The first leg of their quarterfinal matchup at RCDE Stadium saw Barca field a strong starting XI, including Lionel Messi (the all-time leading scorer in the Barcelona Derby with 20 goals), Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique.

The second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu is on Jan 24.

Now 19 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, Madrid and Zidane will be looking to re-sharpen their focus as they look to salvage their season in the cup competitions.

Barca dominated throughout the match but Melendo found the net in the 88th minute, as the visitors suffered their first defeat since their Supercopa de Espana losses to Real Madrid.

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Valverde also trotted out the old cliche that "form goes out the window" when Barca meet Espanyol in the first of three Catalan derbies in 19 days on Wednesday (they meet in the return leg at Camp Nou next Thursday and in the league at Espanyol on February 4).

Fortunately, they are nothing big. Playing in a 3-4-2-1 formation, Espanyol had the first line of defence with five men and the second with four players holding their ground in midfield. The good thing is we have the second leg to try and turn things around.

FC Barcelona had a number of chances to win this game including a penalty. It was hard for us, but we had it under control. There was a bit of tension and they took advantage of those circumstances, caught us out at the back and scored. Philippe Coutinho is recovering from an injury but is getting closer to being involved, while new signing Yerry Mina has also been training with the team, but has yet to receive clearance to play for Barcelona.

"We played with the same players in Vigo [against Celta] and I am happy with them", the coach said.


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