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Barcelona sans Suarez at Espanyol Copa return derby match

Harold Heckle (Associated Press) - January 11, 2016 - 6:08pm

MADRID — Barcelona can expect a heated reception when it travels to Espanyol without striker Luis Suarez for the return leg in the Copa del Rey.

Suarez was handed a two-match suspension for insulting some Espanyol rivals in the tunnel during a post-match altercation after the first leg. Two Espanyol players had been sent off in the 4-1 loss to Barcelona.

Wednesday's match could see Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal — who debuted for Barcelona in the first round — return for the Catalan powerhouse.

"The return match will be intense and exciting," Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. "It'll be played in a fun environment."

With Real Madrid disqualified, the other two teams in the capital will meet when Atletico Madrid takes on Rayo Vallecano following a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Also, Sevilla holds a 2-0 lead over crosstown rival Real Betis.

Here are some things to know about this week's Copa del Rey matches:

MASTERFUL MESSI

Lionel Messi scored twice against Espanyol and set up the other goals in the first leg.

Over the weekend, the Argentine forward scored three in Barcelona's 4-0 league win over Granada, hitting the back of the net with three of the five shots he took.

FEARLESS FOE

Atletico coach Diego Simeone considers Rayo to be a dangerous rival because it will need to play all-out and has nothing to lose.

Simeone said the draw in the first leg was "fair" because Rayo knew how to pressure his squad almost to a standstill.

"It is a very dangerous team, especially in this return leg, because the players will have no fear," Simeone said. "They are always offensive and that gives them an edge."

GARY'S IMPETUS

The arrival of Gary Neville as coach at Valencia has yet to unleash the club's attacking potential.

Although the team looked convincing in its 4-0 win over Granada in the first leg and managed to hold Madrid to a 2-2 draw in the league, Valencia's last match was a 2-0 loss at Real Sociedad.

The Copa del Rey could be Neville's best shot at a trophy this season if he can coax more goals from forwards Alvaro Negredo — who scored a hat trick in the Granada win — and Rodrigo Moreno.

ALVARO NEGREDO ARDA TURAN AND ALEIX VIDAL ATLETICO MADRID DIEGO SIMEONE ESPANYOL GARY NEVILLE GERARD PIQUE LEG LIONEL MESSI LUIS SUAREZ QUOT
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