Barça’s victory over Athletic Club in the quarter–finals of the Copa del Rey has handed them a duel over two legs with Gary Neville’s Valencia side in the last four. The first of those matches comes at Camp Nou on Wednesday at 9.00pm CET with Luis Enrique’s team looking to gain the advantage ahead of the second leg which will be played next week in the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia.
The blaugranes trained for the final time on Tuesday before the visit of ‘los che’, and the following squad of eighteen was revealed on the morning of the match: Ter Stegen, Masip, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen and Mathieu.
That means no places for any of Bravo, Douglas, Dani Alves, Mascherano or Sandro, in addition to the injured Rafinha.
Valencia boss Gary Neville could give debuts to his winter transfer window acquisitions on Wednesday as both defender Guilherme Siqueira and winger Denis Cheryshev have been included in the 21 man squad that was named by the English coach following training on Tuesday. Striker Paco Alcácer and midfielders Enzo Pérez and Javi Fuego are the only absentees due to injury.
Luis Enrique: “Valencia will create difficulties. They are a team that dares to generate pressure and they have some fine individuals. This wasn’t an easy draw for either for us. But we’re hoping to play well and set things up nicely for the second leg.”
Gary Neville: “There have been some good results against Barcelona. It’s an important meeting and we have to be able to go back to Mestalla with a chance, that is our intention.”
Following their victory over Atlético Madrid last weekend, Barça have now gone 26 games without defeat in all competitions. At Camp Nou they have won their last six in a row in all competitions, scoring 23 goals and conceding just 3.
Valencia come into the cup clash with Barça on the back of a disappointing defeat at home to Sporting Gijón. Since taking over in December, new boss Gary Neville is yet to win a game in La Liga. Nevertheless, his record in the Copa del Rey is much as all four of his wins in his 14 games in charge have come in the domestic cup competition.
This will be the sixth time that Barça and Valencia have met in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and the good new for blaugranes fans is that every time they have made it to the final after beating ‘los che’, they have gone on to win the competition.