FC Barcelona may hold an overwhelming 7-0 advantage going into the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia (9.00pm CET), yet the chance to set a new club unbeaten record means that motivation remains high.
Other than long-term absentee Rafinha, Luis Enrique has no injury concerns. The seven-goal lead from the first-leg has allowed the manager to make a few changes, as several youngsters from Barça B and one from the Under-19 team, who had been training with the first team this week, were included in the 18-man squad announced by the coaching staff on Wednesday morning.
Valencia boss Gary Neville also gave the chance to a handful of reserve team players to impress in their final training session before the game, but the Englishman will be without defender Shkodran Mustafi who was sent off in last week’s encounter and striker Paco Alcácer who remains sidelined.
Luis Enrique admits that Wednesday’s game is “a bit strange after the result of the first leg” but is adamant that the team will, as ever, “play to win”. Regarding the much talked-about chance to surpass Pep Guardiola’s 28-match unbeaten streak, the Asturian said: “Numbers are great as long as they help us towards titles”.
Neville, on the other hand, concedes that “to get the result to go through (to the final) is near impossible” for Los Che, but wants to at least see an improved effort from his players.
The two sides go into the game in contrasting form; Barça have won their last ten matches in all competitions while Valencia have claimed victory just three times since the turn of the year.
The last two cup meetings between Barça and Valencia at Mestalla have ended in 1-1 draws, as did the recent league encounter in December.