Copa return leg matches may see some surprises
Madrid: The hectic Spanish football season will continue with the 16 return leg matches of the Copa del Rey to be played this week.
Although FC Barcelona, who play away to Osasuna Thursday, have virtually made sure of their place in the quarter-finals thanks to a 4-0 first leg win, almost every other tie is in the balance and there could well be some surprises in store.
Tuesday sees third tier side (Segunda B) Mirandes defend a 2-0 lead away to struggling Primera Liga team Racing Santander, while Mallorca have to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit when they play at home against Real Sociedad, reports Xinhua.
Real Madrid travel to play Malaga. Madrid fought back from 2-0 down to win the first leg 3-2, but a 1-0 win would see Malaga through and prevent a Madrid-Barca quarter-final.
The Spanish giants are hoping Karim Benzema will have recovered from an ankle injury as his side return to a ground where they have already scored four goals in the league earlier this season.
Wednesday sees fourth-placed Levante entertain second division Alcorcon needing to come back from a 2-1 first leg defeat. Levante are missing top scorer Jesuli, who is out injured for the rest of the season, but a 1-0 win would see them into the last eight.
Espanyol have to come back from a similar result at home to another second tier side, Cordoba, while Valencia defend a 1-0 advantage away to Sevilla.
Barcelona who play Osasuna, should have few problems finding a place in the last eight, while the same night Athletic Club Bilbao look to book their ticket in the quarters.
Bilbao drew 0-0 away to Segunda B side Albacete last week and are favourites to progress in front of their home fans, although they will have to be wary of conceding an away goal against the team that knocked Atletico Madrid out in the previous round.
The good news for an Athletic side that has not scored in almost 200 minutes football is the return of striker Fernando Llorente following a knee injury.