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Celta Vigo vs Barcelona, Copa del Rey: Team News, Match Preview

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Barça start the new year with a tough Cup match without Messi, Suárez and Iniesta. Can they win it?

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FC Barcelona v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Welcome back, Spanish football! 10 days after a wonderful win in El Clasico, Barcelona are back in action with the first leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 matchup with Celta Vigo. The first match will be played at the Balaídos with the return leg next week at Camp Nou.

It’s quite difficult for Barcelona fans to care about the Spanish Cup having won this competition for the last three seasons, but it’s always a good opportunity to have a look at some young players. Plus, there’s only six matches left until the Final, and we’ll find out whether or not Barça will play for the title in February, so the Cup doesn’t take that much time.

Another interesting thing about this game is the opponent. Celta played very well at Camp Nou a few weeks ago, getting a 2-2 draw that could have easily been a victory. Juan Carlos Unzué has proven his coaching ability and will surely make things very tough for his old club over two legs.


MATCH INFO, TV & STREAMING

Competition/Round: Copa del Rey Round of 16, First Leg

Date/Time: Thursday, January 4, 2018, 7pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 6pm GMT (UK), 1pm ET, 10am PT (USA), 11:30pm IST (India)

Venue: Estadio Municipal de Balaídos, Vigo, Spain

Television: beIN SPORTS (USA, Canada, Spain)

Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)

(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)


TEAM NEWS

Ernesto Valverde did the smart thing and decided to rest Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Andrés Iniesta for this one. The manager trusts his other players to get a good enough result in the first leg so the three superstars don’t need to come and save the day at Camp Nou next week, and that is an important show of faith by a coach who hasn’t exactly rotated his squad in the first half of the season.

With Suárez rested and Paco Alcácer injured, there is no real striker in the squad to face Celta, so we’ll probably see Ousmane Dembélé as part of the attack from the start. The Frenchman took nearly four months to recover from a hamstring injury but is fully fit to return and will surely use this game as a big opportunity to show his talents and earn more minutes for bigger La Liga and Champions League matches next month.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-3-3)

Cillessen; Semedo, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Digne; Roberto, Busquets, Gomes; Vidal, Dembélé, Denis

Celta Vigo (4-3-3)

Blanco; Mallo, Cabral, Gómez, Jonny; Radoja, Pablo, Jozabed; Mor, Guidetti, Hjulsager


PREDICTION

It’ll be hard for Barça to score without a real striker, but I think Dembélé and Arnáiz will each get a goal: 2-1 to the visitors.