FC Barcelona against Còrdova / FOTO: ARXIU FCB

Playing against a team from a lower division, like Alavés in the previous round, adds a certain risk factor to any cup fixture, as will be the case for FCB tonight in Cordoba (20.00, TV3 and Marca TV). Tito Vilanova and the rest of the coaching staff have made that point clear ahead of the journey to Andalusia, on which they are taking almost the whole first team squad. Only Valdés, Adriano and Iniesta stay at home. These games are potential banana skins, and the game two years ago against Betis is testimony of that.

3-1 loss to Betis on every mind

In that game, Barcelona crashed 3-1 in Seville. Having won the first leg 5-0, they let in two early goals against the side that was then playing in the second division, as Cordoba are now, and came close to leaking a third. Although the ultimate 3-1 defeat mattered for little given the healthy lead from the first leg, it was an important lesson for FC Barcelona. Theoretically weaker teams can sometimes spring unexpected surprises.

Cordoba winless in four games

So, Cordoba are an opponent worthy of the utmost respect. “It’s the biggest game of the year for them”, warned Tito Vilanova on a team that has already knocked out three fine clubs in Elche, Sabadell and Real Sociedad to reach the last sixteen. But they are facing FC Barcelona just when they have hit on their poorest form of the season. They haven’t won any of their last four games and are no longer among the frontrunners in the second division. But they’ll be looking to produce a shock tonight, or at least get a result that means they can travel to the Camp Nou on January 10 with their quarter final hopes still intact.