FC Barcelona opened the defence of their Copa del Rey title on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw at the José Rico Pérez stadium against Hércules. The first leg in Alicante saw Carles Aleñá, Alex Carbonell and Borja López figure in the starting eleven and Nili and Marc Cardona makes appearances as second half substitutes. All five made their official debuts with the Barça first team with Luis Enrique now having given a taste of the big time to 16 different players from La Masia.
With the first team hit by injuries, the B squad was a valuable source of material for Luis Enrique ahead of the trip to Hércules. Their value was highlighted by the fact that it was Carles Aleñá who scored the all important equaliser for the blaugranes in the second half. The midfielder gave way after 76 minutes to allow his B team companion Marc Cardona the chance to make his debut. Borja López played all 90 minutes, Carbonell 69 whilst Nili played almost half an hour after coming on to replace Umtiti.
Post-game comments from some of the debutants in Alicante:
“We will try to win the second leg to get through the tie.”
“When I scored, I saw the ball go in and I wanted to celebrate but at the same time I wanted to grab the ball and go for the winner.”
“We are here to win and learn, not everything can be perfect. I have to look at the mistakes and try to correct them.”
“I knew it was an important game for me. I was a little nervous but I think on an individual level, I had a good game.”
“Thanks to the years I have been at Barça and my time at Cornellà, I have been able to enjoy this great opportunity.”
“Right now I am not thinking about the future. I am thinking about working with the B squad and then we will see what happens.”
“I am happy about making my debut. I was nervous warming up but when I came on I got into the box looking to score. I had chances but it was not to be.”