On Wednesday, Ernesto Valderve’s side will begin their quest to again show their dominance in the knockout tournament as they travel to face third-tier outfit Cultural Leonesa in the last 32, which is played over two legs.
Relegated from the Segunda Division last season, they have little of the history that their opponents boast, having reached the last 16 three times, though most recently in 1959-60.
|Game||Cultural Leonesa v Barcelona|
|Date||Wednesday, October 31|
|Time||8:30pm GMT / 4:30pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the USA, this match will be available to watch on beIN Sports 1 and to stream on beIN Sports Connect.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports 1||beIN Sports Connect|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast live.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Cultural Leonesa players|
|Defenders||Ulbizua, Garrido, Escalante, Alsonso, Viti, Saul, Bernal|
|Midfielders||Y. Gonzalez, Marcos, Martinez, Romero, Sene, Capilla, Mancebo|
|Forwards||Rodriguez, Liberto, Delgado, Zelu, Ortiz, Aridane|
Despite winning 3-1 against Inter de Madrid at the weekend, changes are forecast in the Cultural Leonesa side.
They are notably without their captain, Antonio Martinez, who is banned.
Possible Leonesa XI: Diarra; Saul, S. Gonzalez, Romero, Viti; Bernal, Marcos; Rodriguez, Delgado, Liberto; Ortiz
|Goalkeepers||Cillessen, Inaki Pena|
|Defenders||Semedo, Lenglet, Sergi Roberto, Cuenca, Chumi, Miranda|
|Midfielders||Denis, Arthur, Rafinha, Vidal, Riqui Puig, Samper, Alena|
|Forwards||Dembele, Malcom, Munir|
Barcelona will be without long-term defensive injury absentees Thomas Vermaelen and Samuel Umtiti while Lionel Messi will also be on the sidelines once again due to a broken arm. Gerard Pique is rested, meaning the club will rely on youth in central defense.
Valverde has called up seven players from the ‘B’ ranks for this clash, Inaki Pena, Alena, Miranda, Riqui Puig, Cuenca and Chumi, but competition rules mean that there must be at least seven players from the first team on the field at all times.
Jasper Cillessen has been ill, but the goalkeeper starts as part of that seven.
Possible Barcelona XI: Cillessen Semedo, Chumi, Cuenca Miranda, Vidal, Samper, Denis,Malcom, Munir, Dembele.
Betting & Match Odds
Barcelona are huge 1/10 favourites to win the game according to bet365 . Cultural can be backed at 20/1, while the draw is priced at 17/2.
Fresh from a 5-0 Clasico victory over Real Madrid on Sunday, which accounted for Blancos boss Julen Lopetegui, Barcelona are in high spirits as they make the trip to Leon for their opening Copa del Rey match of the season.
Even the absence of Messi did not stop Valverde’s side from flexing their offensive muscles at Camp Nou at the weekend, but against more modest opposition they have elected to give some star names the night off, among them hat-trick hero Luis Suarez.
The coach has, however, warned of the dangers of complacency ahead of this fixture and has underlined the value he has placed on the competition.
“The cup is a very important competition. I don’t understand the idea of not going for one tournament to focus on another,” he said.
“We need to avoid surprises and play a good game because our opponents will be playing at 200%,
“We are expecting a rival who will try to play well, taking the ball from behind. They can count on the enthusiasm of the crowd, and it’s a difficult game for us in that sense.
“The opponent has a lot to gain, it’s a massive game for them.”
Cultural’s last experience at this round of the Copa del Rey, however, was not a happy one. In 2016-17, they faced Real Madrid and were thumped 7-1 in the first left before going down 13-2 on aggregate after a 6-1 loss at the Bernabeu in the second.
If they could keep things competitive for the return match on December 5, that would be seen as a victory in itself.