Despite the outcome of this match, it is guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining encounters of the season. Both clubs need this win and will fight until the very end.
Although Malaga has the advantage entering the clash, it should be expected that Barcelona will pull off the victory and advance to meet Real Madrid in the next round.
If Malaga were at full strength, the game would simple be a toss-up at this point. But with key players missing for Malaga while facing a full-strength Barcelona, the likelihood of advancing is very low.
I predict a final score of 2-0 in favor of Barcelona.
The Catalans will attack very well and will likely see Messi score at least one goal. But it will be the defense who will decide the match. Malaga is missing their best player and the attacking game will absolutely suffer.
Though a score of 2-0 looks great, the final line will not do justice to the play that will take place. Malaga will be outstanding as always, but will lose to simply being overpowered by a very strong Barcelona team.
Barcelona will go on to advance to likely play Real Madrid in the next round. But for Malaga, the season is far from over. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have a long road ahead of them in both the Champions League and La Liga.
Predicting the Barcelona Lineup:
Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba
Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta
Pedro, Lionel Messi, David Villa.
With Cesc Fábregas having played many games lately, he will likely not start. Barcelona will need a stronger attacking dimension to their play and David Villa will offer just that. However, the rest of the lineup should be pretty standard for the Catalans.
The only available players not traveling with the club will be Jonathan Dos Santos, Martin Montoya, Marc Bartra and Isaac Cuenca (via fcbarcelona).
How big of a game is this for both clubs? Who will advance to the next round and why? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson, The Catalan Blood of Bleacher Report.
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