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FC Barcelona’s opponents in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey fixture at 7.30pm CET are a side they have never faced before. Let’s take a look at the third tier side from Andalusia…
Where are they from?
Linares is the second largest city in the province of Jaén, Andalusia, in the south of Spain. Located in the Sierra Morena mountain range, it has a population of around 57,000 people. It’s has been traditionally associated to lead mining.
Linares Deportivo has only existed since 2009, but is effectively the ninth different incarnation of SG Linarense, a club founded way back in 1909. The strongest days for football in the city wad the 1980s, when the team was known as Linares CF and spent four consecutive seasons in the second division.
The current team competes in Group 2 of the third tier Primera División RFEF, the same division as Barça B, which includes teams from the south and east of Spain.
This is only the fourth time that the club has been eligible to play in the Copa del Rey. Last year they played Sevilla and lost 2-0.
The Estadio de Linarejos has existed since 1956 and holds 13,250 spectators, although due to Covid-19 restrictions it cannot fill to capacity for this game. Although it is common for lower tier teams in Spain to play on artificial surfaces, the Linares stadium is natural grass.
Linense are currently fourteenth in their division with a 6-4-7 record, just two places above the relegation zone although there is a six-point cushion in between. Barça B are seven places and three points higher.
They have reached the last 32 of the Copa del Rey for the first time ever after first defeating Gimnàstic Tarragona on penalties following a 0-0 draw and then achieving the greatest feat in club history by winning 2-1 against first division Alavés.
Inlcuding those two cup games, they're currently on a run of seven games without defeat.
Last five games
Dec 19 (LEAGUE) Linares 4-0 Sevilla Atletico
Dec 14 (CUP) Linares 2-1 Alavés
Dec 11 (LEAGUE) Linares 0-0 RB Linense
Dec 4 (LEAGUE) Betis Deportivo 1-3 Linares
Dec 1 (CUP) Linares (p)0-0 Gimnàstic Tarragona
Head to head
This is the first time that Barça have played Linares, although Barça B played them in the RFEF in October. The Barça reserves won that away fixture 2-1. Aranda put the Catalans ahead after 56 minutes and although Andalusians equalised just four minutes before the end, a Josema own goal right at the end earned Barça B the three points.
With the exceptions of goalkeepers Razak Brimah (Ghana) and Ernestas Juskevicius (Lithuania) and defender Fede Olivera (Uruguay), all of the other players are Spaniards.
Brimah has 27 caps for the Ghanaian national side, and was the first choice keeper in the team that reached the 2015 African Cup of Nations Final, losing on penalties to Ivory Coast.
Top goalscorers 2021/22
Jon Etxaniz (4) Nando Copete (3) Francisco Carnicer (3)
Alberto González has been in charge of a number of lower league teams in Andalusia, including Linares’ greatest rivals, Real Jaén. He joined the club for the 2020/21 season, but despite guiding the team into the new RFEF First Division he opted not to stay on.
However, after his successor Alejandro Sandroni was sacked in September of this year, he accepted an invitation to return.
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