COPA DEL REY PREVIEW: Linares v FC Barcelona

COPA DEL REY PREVIEW: Linares v FC Barcelona

The champions begin their title defence in Andalusia against the same third tier side that the reserves beat earlier this season

FC Barcelona, winners of an incredible five of the last seven editions of the Copa del Rey, begin the defence of the 2020/21 title on Wednesday at 7.30pm CET against a team they have never played before, Linares Deportivo from the province of Jaen, Andalusia.

The TV broadcasters for this game could be different to what you are used to in your country or region, so hopefully the following link will help you to find a way to watch it:

Linares is en entirely unfamiliar opponent however. They play in the same group as Barça B in the new third tier RFEF Primera Division, and the reserves were at the Estadio de Linarejos in October and won 2-1.

With the senior team so blighted by injuries and Covid at the moment, it means that some of the players that featured in that game (Iñaki Peña, Comas, Guillem, Ilias, Jutglà and Mika Mármol) will be travelling back there, this time to play for the first team in the cup.


The game comes at a happy time for the team, for despite the troubled beginning to the 2021/22 campaign and the unprecedentedly high number of absentees, there has been a marked improvement in the last few games, capped by a fabulous 1-0 victory at Mallorca at the weekend that has shot the side up to fifth in the Liga table.

Linares, meanwhile, are fourteenth in their own division, seven places below Barça B. But they have hit on some fine form, and are unbeaten in seven games, including perhaps the greatest result in the club history, the 2-1 defeat of first division Alavés that earned them a place in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey for the first time ever and the chance to measure up against the mighty FC Barcelona.


Team news

Ousmane Dembélé is back in the 21-man squad announced on the morning of the match after returning a negative Covid-19 PCR test. Dani Alves is also included in a squad for the very first time since returning to the club after confirmation of his registration from the Spanish Football League (LFP). 

Defenders Clément Lenglet and Samuel Umititi are both missing with a stomach bug. The two Frenchmen join the list of absentees through injury and Covid that includes Dest, Sergi Roberto, Coutinho, Pedri, Memphis, Ansu Fati, Braithwaite, Ferran Torres, Gavi, Abde and Balde.

Luuk de Jong, who scored the winning goal against Mallorca, is also ruled out due to suspension.

Xavi says

“Linares are a good team and will be extremely motivated for this one and have the home advantage, playing in front of their fans who will create plenty of pressure.”

“They are a technically sound team. They position themselves well and a strong with transitions.”

“The cup is obviously a target for us. Every competition that Barça compete in is always a goal for us. We’re the defending champions and we want to win the trophy again.”


Did you know?

Barça has won the Spanish Cup a record 31 times, eight times more than any other club.

This is the tenth different team from Andalusia that Barça have played in the cup and the first from the province of Jaen. Cadiz is the only one of the eight provinces of Andalusia that Barça has never visited in the cup (although they have done on various occasions in the league, of course).

Although Linares Deportivo has only existed since 2009, they are effectively the same club that has had nine different names dating back more than a century, and which have typically all identified with the colour blue. The team is nicknamed the ‘azulillos’ (‘little blues’).

Linares have never played in La Liga, and have only played five seasons in the second division, for the last time in 1984.

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Força Barça

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