Our prediction for this Copa del Rey match:
All eyes will be on Estadio San Mames when Athletic Club and Barcelona take on each other in the Copa del Rey last 16. The Lions did well to make it to the Spanish Super Cup final, but Real Madrid eventually prove to be a big catch for the Basque outfit. All Nunez, Vencedor, and Villalibre should miss out with injuries for the hosts.
Barca, on the other hand, aim to make amends for yet another heart-breaking loss in “El Clasico”. Since Xavi’s men have slim chances of winning the La Liga title, they will surely take Thursday’s clash seriously. Considering that tired legs could prove to be a big problem for the Basques, we are tempted to put our money on the Catalan outfit. Fit-again Dutch striker Memphis Depay is widely expected to return to the starting XI, as well as pacey winger Ansu Fati.
Highlighted Player (Iker Muniain):
Iker Muniain was once considered one of the most talented players in Spain, but he obviously failed to reach his full potential. Munian is an attacking midfielder, who is capable of playing as a forward as well and he began his youth career at Chantrea. In 2005 he made probably the best decision of his career as he joined Athletic Bilbao youth academy.
He made his debut for Athletic Bilbao on 30 July, 2009 in a 1-0 loss to Young Boys in the Europa League. Iker Munian impressed in the 2011/2012 La Liga campaign with the Lions, scoring nine goals in all competitions, but he failed to make a bigger progress. The Athletic Bilbao product has been struggling with injuries and it has to be noted that the injury he suffered against Sevilla on 4 April, 2015 could have ruined his career.
However, he returned to action on 20 December, but he was playing below expectations in the second half of the season. Iker Munian made his Spain debut on 29 February, 2012 in a friendly against Venezuela. La Roja won the match 5-0 and Munian came as a substitute in the 74th minute of the match.
Highlighted Team (Barcelona):
Barcelona is a Spanish football club based in Barcelona, Catalonia. Barca were founded in 1899 and they are regarded as one of the greatest clubs in world football. The Catalan giants won their 24th La Liga title in 2016, with Luis Suarez winning “El Pichichi” award. Barcelona have won five European Cup trophies and a number of top-class players were part of the team in the past.
The likes of Hristo Stoichkov, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona and Pep Guardiola are some of many players that played for Barca in the past, but, no doubt, Leo Messi has established himself as the club’s trademark. Barcelona welcome their rivals at Camp Nou, the stadium that was built in 1957.
Barcelona’s local rivals are Espanyol, but the rivalry between Barca and Real Madrid is much bigger. The two La Liga giants face each other in “El Clasico”, which is considered one of the most exciting derbies in the world football. Barca are famous for their football youth school La Masia as well.