Barça face Elche in the first leg of their Last 16 round Spanish Cup tie on Thursday night (10.00pm CET) at the Camp Nou as a busy January schedule starts to kick in. Thursday’s game will be the first of three games between the two teams this month.
Squad News :Luis Enrique announced an 18 man squad, with a number of regulars rested, with Xavi a last minute drop out to be replaced by Iniesta.
The view from the dugout: Although giving a generally upbeat and confident response in Wednesday’s press conference, Luis Enrique admitted: “everything about the game against Elche worries me, we have to be as focused as posible”.
Form Guide: The defeat against Real Sociedad was Barça’s first since the start of November, whilst in the last round of the Cup they brushed aside third tier Huesca 12-1. Elche are currently bottom of La Liga, though they did manage a 2-2 draw last weekend at home to Villarreal, after seeing off Valladolid in the last round of the Cup with a 1-0 win at home following a goalless first leg.
Ones to watch: Assuming he plays, after starting Sunday’s game on the bench and reporting sick on Monday morning, Leo Messi will be looking to repeat last year’s feat, when he was the Cup’s leading scorer. Up front for Elche is their Brazilian leading scorer Jonathas, who’s scored 7 goals so far this season
Coverage: The game is being shown live in Catalonia on TV3 and Antena 3, by Sky Sports in the UK and beIN Sports in the US.