After winning at Real Sociedad for the first time in more than a decade — a thrilling, 4–2 come-from-behind victory on a cold and rainy night in the Basque Country — one might have thought FC Barcelona would set aside some time to celebrate.
Not so. That’s because Barça, the only remaining undefeated team in Europe this season, is up against the clock — and cross-town rivals RCD Espanyol, who Barça faces on Wednesday night at 9.00pm CET in the first leg of a Copa del Rey quarterfinal derby.
Hence, Monday’s workout served a dual purpose — to help Sunday night’s starters recover from a grueling road win that ended barely 12 hours earlier, while training the rest of the squad’s focus squarely on Espanyol and the looming battle for bragging rights in the city of Barcelona.
All available players took part on Monday, while Nélson Semedo, who was a late scratch from the trip to San Sebastián due to tonsillitis, did not. Coutinho, however, continued his recovery work from a thigh injury that is expected to keep him out for approximately two more weeks.
In addition to the Copa del Rey game at Espanyol on Wednesday night, Barça faces Real Betis in Sevilla on Sunday night. The return leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals is at Camp Nou next Thursday, January 25th, at 9.30pm CET.