Copa del Rey Preview: Valencia - Barcelona
Los Che will be banking on their excellent home record to keep the Liga champions at bay and take an advantage to Camp Nou for the second leg
By Karthick Arvinth
Barragan, Rami, Ruiz, Mathieu
Albelda, T Costa
Feghouli, Jonas, Alba
Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Sanchez, Messi, Adriano
Valencia boss Unai Emery has something of an injury crisis heading into Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final clash with Barcelona, with Mehmet Topal (concussion) and Ever Banega (thigh strain) rated doubtful to feature after being taken off the field of play in Sunday's bruising 2-2 draw at Racing Santander.
Defensive duo Miguel and Adil Rami are also nursing knocks, although the latter is likely to play, while Aritz Aduriz has been declared fit after suffering a blow to the head against Racing.
The visitors have injury problems of their own, however, with Pedro and Andres Iniesta both ruled out with thigh problems.
The duo join long-term absentees David Villa, Ibrahim Afellay and Andreu Fontas in the treatment room, while Seydou Keita is competing with Mali at the African Cup of Nations.
On a positive note for Pep Guardiola's side, Alexis Sanchez has made a speedy recovery from the collarbone injury he sustained in Wednesday's Clasico against Real Madrid, and is expected to start at the Mestalla.
Defender Gerard Pique is also expected to feature, having trained normally on Monday after coming off with a knee problem in Saturday's goalless draw at Villarreal.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Valencia have a solid record at Mestalla this season, having won all but five of their games there in all competitions, and losing just two.
- Los Che and Barcelona last met each other in the Copa del Rey in the semi-final stage in 2008, which the Mestalla club won 4-3 on aggregate before going on to lift the cup with victory against Getafe in the final.
- However, that was the last time Valencia came out on top against the Catalan club, and they are yet to beat the reigning European champions in seven attempts under Unai Emery.
- Barcelona are the most successful club in Copa del Rey history, having won the tournament 25 times.
- Argentine superstar Lionel Messi (pictured) leads the Catalan club's goalscoring charts this season with 36 strikes.
- Despite their stuttering league form on the road this season, Barcelona have won all three of their away games in the Copa del Rey.
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Top 3 Predictions
Valencia CF 1-3 FC Barcelona
- 16.81 %
Valencia CF 0-2 FC Barcelona
- 13.57 %
Valencia CF 2-1 FC Barcelona
- 12.57 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 1, 2013||Valencia CF 2 - FC Barcelona 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 3, 2013||Valencia CF 1 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 2, 2012||FC Barcelona 1 - Valencia CF 0|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 19, 2012||FC Barcelona 5 - Valencia CF 1|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Feb 8, 2012||FC Barcelona 2 - Valencia CF 0|
|Dec 1, 2013||Valencia CF 3 - Osasuna 0||LIGA|
|Nov 28, 2013||Swansea 0 - Valencia CF 1||EL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Elche 2 - Valencia CF 1||LIGA|
|Nov 10, 2013||Valencia CF 2 - Valladolid 2||LIGA|
|Nov 7, 2013||Sankt Gallen 2 - Valencia CF 3||EL|
|20||Aritz Aduriz Zubeldia||Striker|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|12||Jonathan Dos Santos||Midfielder|
The key to Valencia's success in this tie will be the performance of the defensive line, marshalled by the former Barcelona youth trainee. Needless to say, Los Che's defending will have to improve significantly from their sloppy performance at the weekend to have a realistic chance of progressing to the final.
The Argentine's stunning form has dipped slightly of late, best epitomised by his miss when one-on-one with the goalkeeper against Villarreal on Saturday. The three-time Ballon d'Or winner will be keen to make amends at the Mestalla and lift the spirits of a team that looks increasingly reliant on his magic.
Valencia will be encouraged by their opponents' poor form on the road, but unsurprisingly, they are the underdogs here. While the Catalans have struggled in some of the less glamorous away fixtures, they invariably raise their game for the big occasions, and should be able to get the win they need to put a frustrating week behind them.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed