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Messi helps Espanyol banish Barca demons in Catalan derby

Copa Del Rey By: Collins Udeme | 17/01/2018

Barcelona were made to pay for Lionel Messi's missed penalty as Espanyol struck late to beat their Catalan rivals 1-0 in Wednesday's Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg.

Los Pericos had lost only one of their last six games but had not beaten Barca at home since January 2007, Ernesto Valverde’s side having also gone 29 matches without defeat.

Barca dominated at the RCDE Stadium but failed to find the net as the home side snatched a winner three minutes from the end through Oscar Melendo. But there’s still the second leg at Camp Nou to come.

SETTING THE SCENE

Barcelona named a weakened side against Catalan rivals Espanyol in this Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg.

Jasper Cillessen, Lucas Digne, Carles Alena, Aleix Vidal and Denis Suarez all came into Barca’s XI, although Lionel Messi still started up top.

However, new signing Yerry Mina did not make the squad at all, nor did fellow defender Javier Mascherano, who has practically agreed a move to China.

On the other hand, Rafinha was among the Blaugrana’s substitutes, despite speculation that the midfielder is close to joining Inter.

Espanyol, meanwhile, were still managed by Quique Sanchez Flores despite a reported link back to the Premier League went with a defensive 3-5-1-1 formation, which featured the prolific Gerard Moreno at the tip.

In the Copa del Rey, the two sides have played one another on 18 occasions, with Barcelona winning out 13 times. Most recently, Barca progressed from the Round of 16 at their local rivals’ expense in 2016, winning 6-1 on aggregate.

The two sides’ last meeting in the Copa came in the 2015-16 Round of 16, when the holders ran out 6-1 winners on aggregate.

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