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Barça are just 180 minutes away from their 36th Spanish Cup final, standing in their way are a Villarreal side who have reached the semi-finals of the competition for the very first time in their history.
The Barça coaching staff released an 18-man squad list on Wednesday morning. The list includes: Ter Stegen, Masip, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Alves and Mathieu.
Villarreal named their squad for the trip to Camp Nou for the first leg of the Cup semi-final on Tuesday. Coach Marcelino García Toral will be without the injured Adrian Marín, Jokic and striker Uche, who has a knee problem.
Villarreal's squad: Asenjo, Juan Carlos.Mario, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz, Dorado, Musacchio, Bruno, Pina, Jonathan dos Santos, Trigueros, Cheryshev, Moi Gómez, Vietto, Gerard Moreno and Giovani.
Luis Enrique recognised in his press conference the day before the game that the recent league game between the sides would be a useful reference point. The Barça coach pointed out his side’s need to improve in certain areas: “We will need to be more consistent this time. We can’t allow them to have as many chances as they did in the league game”.
For his part, Villarreal coach Marcelino García Toral admitted: “Barça are clear favourites because we are up against the best Barça of the season. We go into the game highly ambitious and motivated. Let’s see if we are capable of being competitive once again versus an extraordinary team.”
Since losing in Anoeta to Real Sociedad in their first game of 2015, Barça have reeled off nine successive victories in the league and the Spanish Cup. In January they first dispensed of Elche in the Cup and then Atlético Madrid in the quarter-final, winning home and away in both ties. Last Sunday’s scintillating 5–2 victory in San Mamés over Athletic was the ninth time this season the blaugranes have scored at least five times in the same game.
Villarreal’s 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions was brought to an end by Barça just 11 days ago. Since the 3–2 defeat at Camp Nou in the league, Marcelino’s side have beaten Granada 2–0 at home in the league thanks to an own goal from Diego Mainz and an injury time second from Gerard Moreno.
Ones to watch
Luis Suárez was back amongst the goals at the weekend in the game at Athletic and admitted after the match that the strike would do his confidence a world of good. Pedro. who came on and scored in the second half in San Mamés, leads the goalscoring charts for the blaugranes in the Cup this season with five.
Villarreal coach Marcelino made seven changes to his team for the league game at home to Granada at the weekend with the likes of Vietto, Cheryshev and former blaugrana Jonathan Dos Santos left on the bench. The influential trio seem set to return to the starting line up against Barça. Villarreal’s latest signing, ex-Arsenal and Betis winger Joel Campbell, made his league debut for the club in that game and the Costa Rican could well figure at some point in the first leg at Camp Nou.
Villarreal won 3-1 on their first ever visit to Camp Nou in the league back in 1998. To prove it was no fluke, they did so again on their second visit some two years later. However, they have lost their last four matches at Barça’s ground and eight of their last nine games versus the blaugranes.
The game is being shown live by Sky Sports in the UK and beIN Sports in the US.
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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