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After following Clásico victory with two more brilliant wins, the next challenge for FC Barcelona is their Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg at home to Villanovense (8.00pm CET) The visitors may play their league football in the third-tier Division 2B, but after holding the European champions to a shock 0-0 draw in their own stadium, at the halfway point they’re very much still involved in this tie.
For the first leg, Luis Enrique opted to rest several of his more regular choices, but it is not clear whether he’ll take a similar approach on Wednesday night.
The squad list was released on Wednesday morning, along with those not making the cut.
Here is the full squad: Claudio Bravo, Jordi Masip, Daniel Alves, Andrés Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Neymar Jr., Javier Mascherano, Marc Bartra, Munir El Haddadi, Sandro Ramírez, Adriano Correia, Thomas Vermaelen, Jérémy Mathieu, Sergi Samper (26), Gerard Gumbau (28) and Aitor Cantalapiedra (33).
The whole Villanovense squad are making the trip to Barcelona to enjoy the experience, but centre back Javier Sánchez is out with a knee injury, along with Carlitos Andujar and Javier Zafra, who have been out of action all season.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Luis Enrique said that “it’s a dangerous situation, because a score draw would knock us out. We need to take this game seriously even though we’re playing a lower level team … We had a lot of problems in the first leg. It might look easy but I’m not taking any chances.” Despite being pressed for clues as to his team selection, he was giving absolutely nothing away. “Don’t worry” he insisted. “There will be eleven players!”
After his team trained in Barcelona on Tuesday, Villanovense boss Julio Cobos told the press that "our aim is to present a good image, play a serious game, make things difficult and, of course, qualify. It’ll be very difficult, but anything can happen in football.”
The two sides couldn’t be going into this game in more contrasting form. Barça have been surpassing even their own extraordinarily high standards of late. The 4-0 win at the Bernabéu was followed by a 6-1 rout of Serie A giants Roma, and then Real Sociedad were crushed 4-0 on Saturday. Since the 0-0 draw in the first leg, Barça have won six out of six, scoring 22 goals and conceding just one!
Meanwhile, for Villanovense, things couldn’t have gone worse. Since the greatest night in the club’s history, they have gone on to lose all five of their league fixtures, including 2-1 defeat at home to Cartagena on Saturday. It means that with just 13 points from 15 games, they’re now in the relegation zone.
Barcelona have been knocked out of the cup in the past by teams from Division 2B. Novelda (2001), Figueres (2002) and Gramanet (2004) all achieved historic victories, albeit at a time when first round matches were played over one leg and always at the ground of the lower ranked club.
This is the first time that Villanovense have ever made it as far as the last 32, and it’s only the second time that Barça have ever faced a team from the region of Extremadura in the cup, the only other occasion being against Don Benito way back in the 1930/31 season. They did, however, play both Mérida and Extremadura when those two clubs enjoyed short spells in the First Division towards the end of the last millennium.
No matter where you are in the world, we have you covered. And remember, you can enjoy live commentary in English on Radio Barça. The link will appear at fcbarcelona.com just before kick-off. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.
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