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On Wednesday at 9.30pm CET, FC Barcelona will be looking to capitalise on their 1-0 lead from the first leg against Cultural Leonesa to bag a place in the last sixteen of the Copa del Rey. Let’s take a closer look at the side that faces the ominous task of trying to stop that happening.
From the capital of what was the independent Kingdom of Leon back in the Middle Ages, the club was founded in 1923. It has only ever spent one season in the Spanish top flight, and that was way back in 1955/56.
Since 1975 they had been playing in the third and sometimes fourth tier of the national pyramid every season until the last, when they spent a year in Division 2A but were relegated straight back down again.
HEAD TO HEAD
Barça’s sole competitive meetings with Cultural dated back to the 1955/56 Liga season (a 4-0 win at home and a 1-0 win in Leon) before the teams were drawn together in the last 32 of the 2009/10 Copa del Rey.
A brace from Pedro earned a 2-0 win for Barça in Leon, and the return saw the blaugrana make it 7-0 on aggregate with goals from Bojan (2), Pedro, Messi and Xavi. Sadly, however, Barça would be eliminated by Sevilla in the following round, making that the first trophy that Pep Guardiola missed out on in his time in charge.
And so we meet again. The first leg at the Reino de Leon ended 1-0 to Barça, with Clement Lenglet coming on to score the winner right at the end.
While Barça got a bye, Cultural had to navigate three rounds of games against Navalcarnero, Fuenlabrada and Lorca FC to get this far.
Although their season in Division 2B Group I got off to a good enough start, they are winless in their last six league games and have dropped to fifth place – and out of the all-important playoff zone.
With the exceptions of reserve goalie Samu Diarra (Mali), Nicho Escalante (Mexico), Santiago Magallán (Argentina) and Renato da Silva (Brazil) the squad is made up entirely of Spaniards.
Catalan Josep Señé was the club’s costliest signing when he arrived from Celta Vigo for €4 million in 2017.
Their top scorers this season are Hugo Rodríguez and Aridane Santana, with five goals each.
34 year old Víctor Cea took over at the helm at the start of this season, and his only previous managerial experience was with lower league clubs AD Unión Adarve and CD Madridejos.
But due to his team’s alarming loss of form in recent weeks, and in the knowledge that his job is on the line, he insists that “this game is not a fiesta for us. This is not the time for celebrations. We are in big trouble.”
“It’s not about enjoyment. It’s about turning this situation around. We are all responsible and we aren’t happy with what has been happening this last few weeks.”
“Against Barça, we have to make the most of the little time we’ll have on the ball. We can’t let this opportunity slip … But next Sunday’s league game it what matters most right now.”
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