The quarter-final first-leg fixtures of the Copa del Rey will begin today with a tie between last season’s finalists Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on the cards.
Barcelona are attempting to make the Copa del Rey semi-finals for the sixth year in succession, but a first-leg trip to Basque giants Athletic poses a stern test for the title-holders.
The Liga champions thrashed Ernesto Valverde’s side 6-0 on Sunday at Camp Nou but Barca’s hopes of a repeat of Sunday’s result would seem difficult as the club prepares to line up without Luis Suarez and, perhaps, Lionel Messi.
Suarez was suspended for goading Espanyol players in the tunnel in the previous round, while Argentina star Messi remains a doubt for the game with a hamstring knock.
While Barca’s attack has been blunted, Athletic is boosted by the return from suspension of Aritz Aduriz, who scored four goals across the two legs of his side’s Spanish Supercopa triumph against the Catalans.
In the other tie for the night,
Atletico Madrid who are currently top of the La Liga table, will face a strong Celta Vigo away from home.
Celta will provide Atletico Madrid with a tough test when the clubs compete for a place in the Copa del Rey semifinals.
Atletico are looking to reach the semi-final stage of the competition for a third successive season under their Argentine coach. The Madrid club have been in impressive form in recent months, suffering just one defeat in their last 22 matches in all competitions .
Celta have not reached the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey since 2000-01 when they finished as runners-up with a 3-1 loss to Real Zaragoza.
The Galician side have lost just two of their last 12 fixtures in all competitions, and come into the match on the back of 4-3 win over Levante on Saturday.