UD Barbastro vs FC Barcelona
Competition/Round: 2023-24 Copa del Rey, Round of 32
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Marc-André ter Stegen, Pedri, Gavi, Lamine Yamal, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso (out)
Barbastro Outs & Doubts: None
Date/Time: Sunday, January 7, 2024, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Barbastro Municipal Stadium, Barbastro, Spain
Referee: Juan Luis Pulido Santana
How to watch on TV: Startimes World Football (Nigeria), Movistar Liga de Campeones 3 (Spain), others
Following a hard-fought win away to Las Palmas to begin 2024 on a winning note, Barcelona return to action to begin a new journey in the Spanish Cup as they travel to the small town of Barbastro to face Fourth Division side UD Barbastro in the Copa del Rey Round of 32 on Sunday night.
Barça come into this one as massive favorites and having had a favorable draw as one of the four Spanish Super Cup teams, who per the rules are guaranteed to face one of the four lowest-ranked sides left in the Copa del Rey field.
Barbastro beat La Liga side Almería to reach this point, so they’ve already proven they are capable of a major upset against a team that gave Barça all they could handle in the final game of 2023. This is undoubtedly the biggest game in Barbastro’s history, and nearly 6,000 fans will fill the Municipal Stadium to try and will their team to their most famous ever victory.
The gap in quality is immense, even for a Barça side expected to be filled with youngsters and reserves, and the Blaugrana should advance without much trouble against a team three divisions below them. The Catalans aren’t exactly in great form, but they should be more than good enough to move on to the Round of 16 before they leave for Saudi Arabia and the Spanish Super Cup.
But every cup competition around the world is filled with games where a team that has no business playing a giant in the country finds a way to overcome every possible adversity and shock the world with a famous result. This is Barbastro’s hope for Sunday’s match, and Barça’s job is to kill the game off as early as possible to not give the home team any hope.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Peña; Fort, Kounde, Christensen, Iñigo; Fermín, Romeu, Casadó; Ferran, Roque, Félix
Barbastro (4-3-3): Fàbrega; Val, Mingotes, Carbonell, Bautista; Ara, García, Javito; Gonpi, De Mesa, Rausell
Barça’s previous experiences of early Copa del Rey rounds have always followed a similar script: a tough start against a team giving their all, but eventually the better side takes over and wins with some comfort. Even without the team in flying form at the moment, I expect more of the same in this one: 3-0 Barça, and a spot in the next round confirmed without much fuss.