A place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals will be on the line when Granada welcome Barcelona to Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on Wednesday.

We are reaching the concluding stages of this season’s Copa del Rey, with the quarter-finals underway at present. The third of the four fixtures in this round will be played at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on Wednesday night when Granada play hosts to Barcelona.

Granada entered the Copa del Rey this season in the first round, where they beat AD San Juan. In the three subsequent rounds, the Nazaries got past Cultural Leonesa, Malaga and Navalcarnero, who they beat 6-0 in the Round of 16. However, Diego Martinez & co. have not been in a particularly bright run of form in La Liga lately, having failed to win their last three outings.

Barcelona, on the other hand, have been quite solid for the better part of the last two months, even though their performances have not always been too eye-catching. The Blaugrana have lost just one of their last 14 games in all competitions, with 10 of those ending in wins. In the Copa del Rey, the Catalan giants beat Cornella and Rayo Vallecano in the two rounds they have participated in.

Granada and Barcelona have already gone head to head with each other once this season, with the Blaugrana cruising to a 4-0 win. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Granada

Diego Martinez has been handed a major boost on the team news front ahead of the visit of Barcelona. On Wednesday, the Granada manager will be able to welcome midfielder Yan Eteki into contention after he served a suspension on the weekend.

Martinez, though, will be bereft of the services of a couple of players due to injuries, with Luis Milla and Maxime Gonalons both recovering from their respective hamstring complaints. Otherwise, Granada has a full-strength squad for the Copa del Rey encounter.

Eteki should return to the starting lineup, coming in for Yangel Herrera, who has tested positive for COVID-19. Angel Montoro will pair up with Eteki in the midfield double pivot, with Fede Vico reprising the no. 10 role. Roberto Soldado will lead the line for Granada against Barcelona, with Darwin Machis and Alberto Soro being the two wide men.

At the back, captain Victor Diaz and Carlos Neva will be the two full-backs, with the duo providing the width higher up the pitch, albeit only on the counters. Domingos Duarte and Nehuen Perez will pair up at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Aaron Escandell taking his place in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Escandell; Diaz, Duarte, Perez, Neva; Eteki, Montoro; Soro, Vico, Machis; Soldado

Barcelona

Like his counterpart in the Granada dugout, Ronald Koeman does not have any fresh roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. On Wednesday, the Barcelona boss will have to make do without just three first-team players.

The likes of Gerard Pique, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati remain on the sidelines, but Sergio Busquets is back at Koeman’s disposal after missing the league game against Athletic Bilbao due to a suspension. Sergino Dest is in line to return soon as well, having been included in the travelling squad after recovering from a thigh injury.

Dest, though, is unlikely to start, with Sergi Roberto likely to come in as the right-back, with Oscar Mingueza making way. At the heart of the Barcelona defence, Clement Lenglet ought to replace Samuel Umtiti, partnering the brilliant Ronald Araujo. Junior Firpo will be handed a start as well, with Jordi Alba getting a breather. In goal, Neto will take his customary place for the cup tie.

Busquets will likely return as well, pairing up with Miralem Pjanic in what will be a double pivot, which will provide the front four the freedom to express themselves better. Riqui Puig will get a chance to impress in the no. 10 role, with Lionel Messi and Francisco Trincao being the two wide men. Finally, Martin Braithwaite will spearhead the Barcelona attack against Granada.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neto; Roberto, Araujo, Lenglet, Firpo; Busquets, Pjanic; Messi, Puig, Trincao; Braithwaite

Key Stats

  • Barcelona have won eight of their last nine meetings with Granada, who won the odd game in this run 2-0 back in 2019.
  • The winning side has kept a clean sheet in seven of the nine fixtures in this run.
  • Granada have suffered just one defeat in their last six home games across all competitions (W3 D2), with the sole loss coming against Barcelona.
  • Barcelona are currently on a four-game winning run, scoring exactly two goals in each of these outings.
  • Lionel Messi is the all-time top scorer in the head-to-head contest between Barcelona and Granada, with 14 goals to his name against the Nazaries.

Player to Watch

Lionel Messi

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The headlines just do not stop following Lionel Messi and Barcelona this season and this time they have been for the wrong reasons. With details of his contract being leaked in the media, Messi will likely be one agitated figure and will be desperate to let his game do the talking once again.

What better way then, than to inspire Barcelona to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals. A game in which the Argentine will be particularly eager to make a telling impact, Granada could be in for a tough evening against the talismanic forward.

Prediction

Granada 1-2 Barcelona

With Ronald Koeman expected to rotate his troops once again, a window of opportunity is opening up for Granada. Having said that, with Lionel Messi set to feature, the hosts will surely be under the pump, even though they could take the game right down the wire. Expect Barcelona to eke out a narrow win, with The Hard Tackle predicting a 2-1 victory for Ronald Koeman & co.

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