Barcelona gears up for Copa del Rey clash with massive pressure to perform

Players disappointed after Super Cup Final / FC Barcelona
Players disappointed after Super Cup Final / FC Barcelona

Barcelona faces a challenging Copa del Rey clash against Unionistas with a depleted squad.

Barcelona resumed training this Tuesday following a challenging defeat against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. Recovering swiftly is imperative for Xavi’s team as they gear up for another demanding competition – a Copa del Rey clash against Unionistas de Salamanca, from the Primera RFEF, scheduled for Thursday.

The reality is that Barcelona will enter this cup duel with a limited squad, currently having only 13 first-team players available. Notably, they will be without the suspended Araujo (Lamine Yamal is also suspended but holds a reserve team card), along with the injured Iñigo Martínez, Joao Cancelo, Raphinha, Ter Stegen, Marcos Alonso, and Gavi. First-team assistant manager Oscar Hernandez and goalkeeper coach Ramón de la Fuente will also be serving a suspension.

Furthermore, an essential consideration for the cup match is compliance with competition regulations, necessitating a minimum of seven first-team players on the field. Typically, teams field eight to avoid falling below the required seven players in the event of a first-team player’s expulsion, which could lead to improper alignment and Barcelona’s elimination.

Despite these challenges, according to Ferran Martinez from Mundo Deportibo, Pedri is not yet fit to play the full 90 minutes. Recently recovered from injury, he received treatment in the Super Cup and will be gradually reintroduced, with priority given to the weekend game against Betis at the Benito Villamarín. Therefore, considering the available players, a possible lineup could feature Peña, Roberto, Koundé, Christensen, Balde; Fermín, Gündogan, De Jong, Ferran Torres, Lewandowski, and Joao Felix.

Graphic of potential line up agaisnt Unionistas
Graphic of potential line up against Unionistas

As alternatives from the first team, Romeu, Pedri, and Vitor Roque, who are undergoing an adaptation process, could be introduced gradually. Additionally, considering the positive dynamics with Xavi since the season’s commencement, Fermín remains a viable option. Furthermore, names from the reserve team, such as Héctor Fort, who started in Barbastro and provided an assist, also merit consideration.