Defending champs Barça will be looking to pick up right where they left off in Tuesday night's first leg of the Copa del Rey last 32 at Murcia. | MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The football season's perpetual carrousel of games adds a third seat to the ride on Tuesday night when three-time defending tournament champion Barça leaves behind the Liga and Champions League and travels to Murcia for the first leg of the last 32 in the Copa del Rey — the annual domestic competition that mixes some 83 lower-tier sides and top-flight giants in a battle for Spanish footballing supremacy.

Barça, this season, is going for a four-peat, a feat which hasn't been achived since Athletic Club did it in 1933.

Team Update

Thus is the nature of the Copa del Rey, which every year about this time pops on Barça's radar to make further physical demands on a team that, despite being well accustomed to playing on three days' rest, is nevertheless happy to get a brief respite from facing top-flight competition.


So perhaps not surprisingly, Ernersto Valverde, Barça's first year head coach, is leaving several of the team's biggest stars behind in Barcelona, including Leo Messi, Luis Suárez, Andrés Iniesta, Paulinho, and Marc-André ter Stegen.

Here is the 16-player squad list for the trip to third-tier Murcia (Spain's third tier has a 16-player limit for games—11 starters plus a maximum of 5 sitting on the bench—thus limiting Barça's squad to 16 as well):

First team players: Jasper Cillessen, Nélson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitic, Denis Suárez, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Lucas Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Thomas Vermaelen
Barça B players: Adrián Ortolá (31), Carles Aleñá (26), Marc Cucurella (36), Jose Arnaiz (37)

Hence, the match at third-tier (2nd Division B) Real Murcia appears to be a perfect chance to rest some key players for the grind ahead while giving valuable minutes to others who have yet to see much action, if any, this season.

Form guide

Murcia (5th in 2nd Div. B, Gr. 4): D D L W L
Barça (1st in La Liga): W W D W W

Quotable coaches

"For Murcia, this is their biggest game of the season."
      —Barça's Ernesto Valverde

"This game is fantastic for the city [of Murcia]. We're going to try and compete with the maximum excitement and intensity."
      —Murcia's José María Salmerón


Did you know this is the seventh time Barça and Murcia are facing off in the Copa del Rey? Murcia has never knocked Barça out of the competition. Their last Copa clash was in the last 32 of the 1987 edition, when Barça went through to the last 16, 5–0 on aggregate, en route to a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad in that year's final.

The two sides have met more recently in La Liga, however, with Barça beating Murcia in both games in the 2007/08 Spanish First Division.

Here's a look at three of the more recent goals Barça scored at Murcia, where Tuesday's game is being played.

Worldwide TV Coverage

No matter where you are in the world you can watch the game LIVE. You can also listen to live English commentary on Radio Barça, as well as follow our minute-by-minute updates on FC Barcelona's official English language Twitter account. Don't miss it!

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