In the first meeting between Barcelona and Osasuna, played last week, FCB cruised to an easy victory with two goals each from Messi and Fabregas. With such a comfortable lead, it was no shock that Guardiola chose to rest his starting eleven, and opt for a mixed squad.
Iniesta and Alves had not travelled to Pamplona for the match, while Keita was on international duty in Mali for the African Cup Qualifiers. Unlike the first meeting, the Barcelona lineup would be sans Puyol, Alves, Busquets, Xavi and Fabregas. Instead, the lineup included Fontas, Montoya, Adriano and Roberto, while Pep chose to play Alexis as a substitute for Fabregas, but keep Cuenca and Pedro up top as he did in the previous match.
As much as one may have expected Barcelona to run circles around Osasuna, as they comfortably did in the first round…it seemed as though the tide had changed. Even though Osasuna would have to score at least four goals to possibly eliminate Barcelona, they entered the field with passion; exposing the weakness in the Barcelona defense, with Pique and Abidal left fumbling as Osasuna kept attacking. The midfield seemed a mess, with Barcelona players all over the field, looking uncertain; one of the main differences to the formation had been that Guardiola chose to move Mascherano from defensive left to center midfield. Although one need never question Guardiola’s motives; this is a move that may baffle some as the defense seemed stronger with Pique and Mascherano as opposed to Pique and Abidal, to be fair, it certainly seemed that way in the last match against Osasuna.
The first half saw the fighting spirit of Osasuna, and determination paid off as Lekic found the net in the 40th minute, highlighting the poor defense displayed in the first half. The stats reflected Osasuna’s willpower; having created double the amount of goal opportunities than Barcelona in the first half.
As the team emerged for the second half, they seemed more focused; the squad seemed more unified, and merely three minutes later, Alexis Sanchez would equalize for Barcelona with a beautiful header in the 48th. Messi, who entered the field in the 57th, would assist in the second goal for Barcelona, this one in the 72nd coming from Sergi Roberto.
Barcelona comfortably controlled the rest of the game, and would solidify their spot in the quarterfinals where they are set to face Real Madrid, in yet another ‘El Clasico’ to be played on January 18th, at the Bernabeau.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have met 29 times in the “Copa Del Rey”; Barcelona victorious in 14 of those, unsuccessful in 10 and drawing in the remaining 5.
The other teams who will face off in the quarterfinals are Espanyol v. Mirandes, Atletic Bilbao v. Mallorca and Valencia v. Levante.
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