Sofiane Feghouli could debut for Almeria as he has been named in Jose Luis Oltra’s panel. Hernan Pellerano also returns to action, but Juanma Ortiz is a casualty. Pablo Piatti is rested.
Pep Guardiola has taken his whole squad to Almeria – even injured players Jeffren Suarez, Carles Puyol and Andre Iniesta. Only a handful of first pick players were rested against Betis, and it’s uncertain whether the coach will elect to make many alterations on Wednesday. Nolito and Thiago are in the squad.
In two fixtures against Barcelona this season, Almeria have an unimpressive aggregated score of 13-0 weight against them. With five of those goals having arrived in last week’s semi-final first leg at Camp Nou, the prospects of the southern club progressing to the final would appear to be microscopic at best.
Coach Jose Luis Oltra was left exceptionally disappointed by the dispirited and disjointed performance his team produced in Catalonya last Wednesday night. His goal would have been to keep the match competitive for as long as possible, but Almeria trailed 3-0 within 15 minutes, and had Barca not eased up a little, a real massacre could have been on the cards.
The Copa has been a useful tool for installing confidence in an Almeria side battling the drop, but there is nothing like an energy-sapping tie against la Blaugrana to suck it all back. Having chased the ball for 90 minutes at Camp Nou, the Andalucians would ultimately go down 2-0 against Real Sociedad at the weekend, leaving them firmly in the drop zone.
With no prospect of reaching the Copa final, pride is all that is left to play for at the Estadio del Mediterraneo for the hosts on Wednesday. With a tricky looking fixture against Espanyol forthcoming at the weekend, Almeria are a club with bigger problems to cope with, however.
Everything seems to be going the way of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side at present, as another piece of their jigsaw fell nicely into place over the weekend. La Blaugrana defeated their bête noire, Hercules, on Saturday evening before watching Real Madrid stumble to a wholly unimpressive 1-0 defeat against Osasuna 24 hours later.
Now seven points clear at the summit of La Liga, only the brave would bet against the Catalans picking up a third successive Spanish crown, while a place in the Copa del Rey final also appears to be in the bag after a stunning 5-0 victory over Almeria last week.
Guardiola will be particularly pleased that his men haven’t been forced into genuinely exerting Copa ties over the last few weeks. Athletic Bilbao stretched the Blaugrana in the round of 16, eliminated only on the away goals rule, but since then, convincing first leg victories over Betis and Almeria have allowed Barca luxurious cushions.
Against the Segunda Division club a fortnight ago, a strangely lacklustre Barcelona went down 3-1 in the second leg. It was a star-studded team that made that trip to Seville, and it should be expected that more fringe players are deployed in Wednesday’s match. Not only would they be hungrier to impress the coach, it would also prevent and of the club’s top stars picking up any troublesome knocks with the Champions League looming once more.