Rayo Vallecano vs FC Barcelona
Competition/Round: 2020-21 Copa del Rey, Round of 16
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Sergiño Dest, Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto (out)
Rayo Vallecano Outs & Doubts: José Ángel Pozo, Emiliano Velázquez, Leonardo Ulloa, Alberto García, Miguel Ángel Morro (out), Martín Pascual, Luca Zidane, Antoñín (doubt)
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Thursday)
Venue: Estadio de Vallecas, Madrid, Spain
Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernández
VAR: Pablo González Fuertes
How to watch on TV: Premier Sports 1 (UK), Startimes Sports Life (Nigeria), Telecinco (Spain), others
How to stream: ESPN+ (USA), Premier Player (UK), DAZN (Spain), others
Following a victory on the road against Elche to extend their unbeaten streak in La Liga, Barcelona turn their attentions to the Copa del Rey for a one-off Round of 16 tie against Rayo Vallecano in Madrid on Wednesday.
Barça have yet to play a home game in January which is almost unbelievable, but thankfully this will be the last road trip. The Blaugrana have played a lot of games and went to extra time in all three of their Cup games this month, so an easy night against the Vallecas side would be pretty nice.
But that might not be the case. Rayo have La Liga experience and used to be a pretty good team under Paco Jémez, and even though they aren’t as good as they were five years ago they can still remember good battles against the big boys in Spain and have enough quality players to make it difficult for Barça.
This has been the Copa of upsets and Barça are one of the very few big teams still alive, so they can’t take this one for granted especially with it being a one-off. Anything can happen in 90 minutes — or 120.
Lionel Messi is back from his suspension and expected to start after 10 days off, and if the captain plays Barça’s chances are obviously much better. Ronald Koeman is expected to rotate the team around Messi, but the team should be more than good enough to beat Rayo and move on.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Neto; Mingueza, Umtiti, Lenglet, Firpo; Ilaix, Pjanic, Puig; Trincão, Messi, Braithwaite
Rayo (4-2-3-1): Dimitrievski; Advíncula, Saveljich, Catena, Martos; Suárez, Comesaña; Palazón, Trejo, García; Qasmi
Rayo can make this tough, but if Messi plays we’ll eventually find the goals and move on to the Last Eight: 3-0 to the good guys.