Barcelona host third tier side Cartagena at the Camp Nou in the second leg of the Copa del Rey Round of 16 clash on Tuesday night, holding a 4-1 lead from the reverse fixture.
Goals from Pedro (2), Cesc Fabregas and substitute Jean-Marie Dongou gave the Catalans a comfortable win that night, after Cartagena took the lead through in-form striker Fernando. The 4-1 scoreline places Barcelona in a strong position to qualify for the next round, as only a massive defeat on their home turf tonight will deny them a spot in the last 16.
Barca struggled without injured talisman Lionel Messi for some time towards the end of last month, suffering a 2-1 defeat at Ajax in the Champions League, followed by a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao; their first La Liga defeat this season.
However, Gerardo Martino's men bounced back with a 6-1 thrashing of Celtic in the Champions League last week, with new summer signing Neymar scoring a hat-trick. The Blaugrana then continued that run of form in the league as well, beating Villarreal 2-1 with the in-form Brazilian netting a brace that time.
The La Liga leaders will now look to post yet another comfortable win against Cartagena and carry the momentum forward, as the winter break approaches. Martino is set to rest some of his regular starters tonight, though Neymar will feature as he is anyway set to miss the weekend game against Getafe through suspension.
Cartagena, on the other hand, are not enjoying the best of forms at the moment. Since the defeat to Barca they have slumped to two successive draws, including a 2-2 draw at home last weekend to mid-table side Algeciras, who were down to nine men. The string of poor results has also seen them slip down to fourth in the Segunda B table.
Barca: Messi (hamstring), Victor Valdes (calf), Ibrahim Affelay and Jonathan dos Santos (both knee) remain sidelined, while Xavi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets have been rested for this tie.
Cartagena: The Segunda B outfit does not have any fresh injury or suspension worries.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 2.30 am IST start on Wednesday morning, with no live coverage in India. Viewers in the U.S. can live stream the match HERE. Middle East and North Africa viewers click HERE.
Expected lineups: Barca: Pinto; Montoya, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Song, Roberto, Fabregas; Pedro, Neymar, Tello
Cartagena: Limones; Zurdo, Astrain, David Moreno, Marcos; Mariano, de Lerma, Riau; Fede, Antonito, Fernando
Prediction: 5-0 to Barcelona
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