Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno
Malaga have the advantage after leaving the first leg with two away goals and a draw. Barcelona are dealing with their first league loss and the distractions of Víctor Valdés and Tito Vilanova missing this match for more treatments.
Nobody in their right mind believes Malaga is a bad team. An imperfect team? Sure, but definitely not bad. Nobody really expected Manuel Pellegrini's bunch to get a result last week at the Camp Nou either, despite the fact we all know their a good side. Yet they did. So what if they they gave up two goals and have to score the equalizer in stoppage time, they went to Barca and left with both a draw in the first leg and two away goals. That's basically like a win.
Now comes the tricky part for Malaga as they prepare to host Barcelona today at the Estadio La Rosaleda in their Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg match. I say tricky because they have to find a way to do one of the following: Clean sheet Barcelona (not likely), outscore Barcelona (possible), or match whatever the Blaugrana do as long as they don't let them score more than two goals. Any of those scenarios would either move Malaga in to the semifinals or force extra time.
Easier said than done.
This Barcelona team at the very least is annoyed. Two straight poor results should have steam coming out of their ears. Losing their first match in the league over the weekend to Real Sociedad should have them ready to pulverize the next team in their way. At least we think so.
This match will be an interesting test for Barca who will be without head coach Tito Vilanova as he undergoes further cancer related treatment in New York. Between that issue, being stuck in a bit of a poor run of form (by their standards) and the distraction of Víctor Valdés announcing he will not sign a new deal with the club when his current one expires in 2014, it's a crazy time for Barcelona. Valdés won't be playing today but that doesn't mean that the situation won't continue to be in his players heads.
We have no idea if the whole Valdés affair is affecting the team but it's certainly possible. It's probably a coincidence that the news breaks and the team has easily their worst performance of the season within days, but you never know. The point is, Barcelona is teetering every so slightly and Malaga are poised to really get them rocking in they can pull off a result today and knock the defending cup champions out of the tournament.
Then again Barca could be angry and Hulk smash them all over the place.
Malaga used a weakened side in the first leg so there's a good chance Pellegrini will bring back players like Isco, Joaquin, Welligton and Martin Demichelis who did not feature in the 2-2 draw. He could also utilize new loan signings Lucas Piazon and Diego Lugano if he sees fit.
Barcelona have both Issas Cuenca and David Villa back and available after both have been cleared to play after recovering from injuries. Cuenca hasn't played in eight months after suffering a knee injury.
Malaga injuries and suspensions
Out: Nacho Monreal (suspended). In doubt: None.
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
Nacho Monreal is out for Malaga after being sent off in the first leg. Barcelona's only missing players are Muneisa and Abidal who have long-term injuries. Abidal is back training with the team though and could make a return soon.
Match Date/Time: 9 p.m. local, 3:55 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio La Rosaleda, Málaga, Spain
TV: beIN Sport (U.S.), Sky Sports 2 (U.K.)