In only three days, Barcelona conceded as many goals as in the previous two months combined, including two at home against Malaga. They now need to win at Estadio de Rosaleda to set up a thrilling semifinal against archrival Real Madrid, but they have good reasons to expect heavy resistance.
Match: Malaga vs Barcelona
Bet: Malaga +1.5 goals
Odds: Pinnacle Sports 1.87
Malaga remains faithful to its 4-5-1 starting formation and despite having home field advantage this time, there will still send only Saviola upfront. He hasn’t scored in more than a month, and at 31 years old he would probably play only a half, before being replaced with Santa Cruz. At least in theory, Malaga can afford to play a defensive game and wait for their opponents to slip again, as they will advance in the competition with pretty much any draw.
On the other hand, Barcelona has suffered its first defeat this season and it was the defense to blame for the meltdown. Vilanova needs a victory but following the consecutive failures, he would probably embrace a more conservative style of play and keep Pedro and Iniesta closely behind Messi. This time Barcelona simply has no room for error, because anything but a straight victory over Malaga would translate into an untimely elimination from Copa del Rey.
A narrow margin victory is everything that Barcelona needs and although the visitors won’t defend after scoring a goal, they would probably dwell on their impeccable passing game. Malaga won’t take any chances early on and even if they concede a goal, they will still not throw any precautions the site. Whether the hosts will succeed in defending the draw or they will go down by the odd goal, it is worth backing them at the cover of a +1.5 goal Asian handicap, at odds of 1.87 with Pinnacle Sports.