After a lackluster 0-0 at Camp Nou, Barcelona are forced to get a good result at San Mamés in order to advance in the Copa del Rey. However, it promises to be a very difficult task, as Athletico Bilbao will be very motivated and the San Mamés is one the toughest venues in Spain.
This is hands down the most important match of the season so far: a defeat means that Barcelona will be out of the Copa del Rey, just like last year at the same stage, at the hands of Sevilla. A repeat of last year must be avoided at all costs and Pep Guardiola should field the best lineup available. Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué will certainly start this time.
In the first leg, some of Barcelona's usual starters, including Messi and David Villa, were left out and even their inclusion in the late part of the match wasn't enough to bring down Bilbao's park-the-bus defense. The 0-0 draw has undoubtedly instilled confidence in Athletico Bilbao and their fans and a full crowd is expected tomorrow, a very hostile environment for Barcelona is in perspective.
Barcelona might have won 3-1 at San Mamés for La Liga, but this is completely different. Bilbao are only second to Barcelona in Copa del Rey trophies (25-23) and they always seem to find an extra motivation in this competition, which means that they'll give Barcelona a very difficult match tomorrow.
But the Barcelona players are proven winners and they've always been known to rise to the occasion. Hopefully, tomorrow will be no different. Just like in every other competition, Barcelona's only objective in the Copa del Rey is to lift the trophy.