No Lionel Messi, no Neymar, no Luis Suarez; no problem though for FC Barcelona. Following last week's convincing 5-0 first-leg victory at the Camp Nou, the Blaugrana simply have to turn up tonight at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero to guarantee their place in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, where a likely tie against Atletico Madrid awaits them. Indeed, after the weekend's thoroughly impressive win over the reigning La Liga champions, many believe that the "crisis" at the club is all but over and that if they can perform like that with any consistency, perhaps FC Barcelona can mount a challenge for silverware after all.
Perhaps it would be naive to suggest that the winner of the FC Barcelona vs Atletico/Real Madrid clash in the quarter-final will definitively win this season's Copa del Rey, but certainly it isn't a stretch to say that whichever team emerges victorious will be heavy favourites to lift the trophy later in the season.
And that's what is at stake for FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey this season; consistency has not been our strong suit under Luis Enrique, and as such a one-off competition, especially the one that on balance is against "weaker" opposition, will represent our best chance of winning a title. And so, keeping key players fresh is all part of the game for Luis Enrique -- we have this tie in the bag, so why not give a few youngsters a chance to shine?
Gerard Gumbau, Adama Traore, Edgar Ie...the list goes on as a total of six B team players have made the jump up tonight; can they impress on their rare appearance with the first team? Predict the score of tonight's match by commenting with your prediction below. Best of luck!
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