Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Villanovense v Barcelona: Holders kick off Copa del Rey defence

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 26 Oct 2015

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Barcelona get their Copa del Rey defence up and running in the modest surroundings of the Estadio Romero Cuerda on Wednesday against Segunda B side Villanovense.

Third-tier Villanovense have brought in additional seating to increase capacity from around 3,000 for the visit of Barca, who will complete their last-32 clash ahead of schedule due to the Club World Cup in December.

The remaining ties will take place on December 1 and 15 – Barca wrapping up their Copa opener before heading to Japan in mid-December for the intercontinental competition.

Semi-professional side Villanovense have made a reasonable start to their Segunda B campaign – taking 13 points from 10 games to sit 11th – but are huge underdogs against the reigning Spanish and European champions.

Even without Lionel Messi, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto as well as the possible absence of Andres Iniesta, Barca will likely head back to Catalonia with a big lead.

Luis Enrique could look to rest players amid a busy fixture schedule and urged his side to buck a trend of going behind in game as in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Eibar – which came about thanks to Luis Suarez’s hat-trick.

“We gifted [Eibar] the first goal through an unfortunate piece of play,” he told reporters.

“At the moment, we’re being punished for any mistakes we make. We must try minimising them to the fullest.”

As well as a series of injuries, Javier Mascherano looks set to be given a ban for his outburst at a linesman on Sunday – reports suggesting he could face a four-match ban for the offence.

That would rule him out of El Clasico next month, meaning Wednesday’s trip to Extremadura would offer Luis Enrique the chance to experiment in different areas.

Sergio Busquets told Sport he “was not close enough” to the Mascherano incident to comment, adding: “The three points are important but we’re going through a moment where our rivals’ attacks are penalising us a lot.

“We made an error [against Eibar] and it cost us a lot. We have to try to correct that when the big matches arrive because we can’t make mistakes then.”

Reserve players Gerard Gumbau, Sergi Samper, Wilfrid Kaptoum and Aitor Cantalapiedra all trained with Barca’s first team on Monday and could be involved in the first leg.

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