Reigning champions Barcelona get their Copa del Rey title defence underway with a trip to the Southeast, to face Spanish third tier side Real Murcia Club de Fútbol.
The Blaugrana begin their journey to win record fourth consecutive Copa del Rey trophy tonight, when they come up against Jose Maria Salmeron’s Real Murcia at the Estadio Nueva Condomina. Barcelona are unbeaten this season and are currently sitting pretty atop the summit of the La Liga.
Their hosts can boast of no such achievement. Murcia are currently 16th in the Segunda B division – Group 4 and have tasted victory only twice in the league this entire season. They did however, qualify for the Copa del Rey in dominating fashion.
This is the seventh time these two sides come up against each other in this tournament and the last time they faced each other was in 1987. Their most recent meeting was 10 seasons ago, in the 2007/08 season, with the Catalan giants winning both fixtures. The last time Murcia beat Barcelona was in 1989. Ernesto Valverde, now manager of Barcelona was a played in that game and he will undoubtedly be looking to make amends tonight.
Team News & Tactics
Jose Maria Salmeron’s men will be facing their biggest test of the season when they face the defending champions, even if it comprises of largely second string players. Los Pimentoneros are expected to field the same starting XI that lost to San Fernando CD over the weekend.
These kind of games come once in a lifetime, and it is unlikely that the the hosts will look to sit back and go with the intention of trying to keep the goal intake to a minimum. Instead, they will certainly want to go and give their best in front of their home fans.
Despite the fatigue, this is the strongest starting XI they can put out. Biel Ribas in goal, with Pedro Orfila, Alex Ortiz, David Mateos and David Fornies making up the defence, while David Sanchez and Armando Ortiz will likely set up shop in the middle of the park as defensive midfielders.
Salmeron has the choice of sticking with Fernando Llorente in attacking midfield or the younger Jordan Dominguez, but it is likely that he will stick with the former, for sheer experience. Elady Zorrilla, who got a goal last week, will likely retain his place in the starting XI.
Abel Molinero could start ahead of Santi Jara on the right, but Salvo Chammorro is almost sure to lead the line for Murcia tonight at the Estadio Nueva Condomina.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Biel Ribas; Pedro Orfila, Alex Ortiz, David Mateos, David Fornies; Armando Ortiz, David Sanchez; Santi Jara, Fernando Llorente, Elady Zorrilla; Salvo Chamorro
The Catalan giants have rested a number of players for big names for this tie and are set to give some fringe players a chance to get some rare minutes. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, ter Stegen, Rafinha, Aleix Vidal, Arda Turan, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets have been left out.
Valverde will likely stick to the 4-3-3 formation and the first of the many changes that are expected to be made to the starting XI of the team that won against Malaga, is Jasper Cillessen coming into goal. Nelson Semedo will likely start ahead of Sergi Roberto and Pique ahead of Mascherano.
Thomas Vermaelen will likely get a rare start ahead of Samuel Umtiti and youngster Marc Cucurella will likely come in for Lucas Digne. Andre Gomes, Carles Alena and Denis Suarez are expected to make up the midfield three, replacing Rakitic, Busquets and Iniesta.
Gerard Deulofeu will likely retain his place as a part of the front three, however Luiz Suarez and Lionel Messi have been left out, meaning that Paco Alcacer and even youngster Jose Arnaiz may get a rare starts to try and make their case with Ernesto Valverde.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Jasper Cillessen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Thomas Vermaelen, Marc Cucurella; Carles Alena, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez; Jose Arnaiz, Paco Alcacer, Gerard Deulofeu
- Barcelona have scored 13 goals in their past 4 matches against Real Murcia.
- Real Murcia have scored a minimum of 3 goals in their last 3 Copa del Rey matches.
- Barcelona’s overall record against Real Murcia is 30 wins, 7 draws and 5 defeats.
- Barcelona are unbeaten this season in 12 matches in all competitions.
- Real Murcia have conceded a minimum of 2 goals in their last 4 matches against Barcelona in all competitions.
Real Murcia 0-4 Barcelona
Despite the number of changes that will take place in the starting XI, Barcelona will still certainly have enough quality to beat Real Murcia with a resounding scoreline. The Blaugrana are have been in stunning form this season, but their opponents, not so much.
Murcia have only won 2 league games this season and are coming off a tiring loss at the hands of San Fernando CD. It would suffice to say that the talent present in either side are worlds apart from each other in terms of quality, and we predict an easy victory for Valverde’s Barcelona.