We're sticking with the cups, but returning to Spain for a game between a side spiralling downwards, and another that's found its feet this season.
"Betis have won at Barcelona in the league and Milan in the Europa League, and they recently won 3-1 at Espanyol, who are in dreadful form."
Back Real Betis Draw No Bet at 2.285/4
Betis to take a step towards the final four
Espanyol v Real Betis
Thursday 24 January, 18:30
Love it or loathe it, the penalty shootout remains one of the most thrilling things in football, a microcosm of what's required to win a game. You need nerve and skill, and I refuse to accept this nonsense about it being "a lottery." However, there wasn't much nerve or skill on show in the shootout between our boys Braga and Sporting CP last night. The first four spot-kicks were missed, and Sporting squeaked through to the Taca da Liga final.
We hope for a better result in the Copa de Rey tonight, as out-of-form Espanyol face Real Betis in the first leg of their quarter-final. Regular readers will know that I tipped Espanyol to get something from Monday's trip to struggling Eibar in La Liga, only for them to collapse in a 3-0 defeat. This time, we are firmly opposing them.
Espanyol are now on a dreadful run of form, having lost eight of their last nine top-flight matches. They made progress to this stage of the cup by overcoming Villarreal, who are in even worse shape in the league. At the RCDE Stadium, Espanyol have lost three of their last four games in all competitions, including a 3-1 defeat to tonight's opponents Real Betis. As our Spanish football columnist Jack Lang points out in his latest La Liga preview, this is just a reversion to the mean for Rubi's side after a strong start.
Betis had an underwhelming start to the season, but they have hauled themselves up to seventh in the table, and at the weekend they overcame a decent Girona side 3-2. Quique Setien's side are a bit hit-and-miss on the road (they won in Barcelona and Milan, but lost at rock-bottom Huesca), but they are a superior team to Espanyol, and they are in far better form. I'll back the visitors Draw No Bet at 2.285/4.