VALENCIA - BARCELONA
Valencia play hosts to Barcelona for a semi-final formality
A half empty Mestalla will host the sides for tonight's near pointless second leg clash. Luis Enrique will give the trident a rest along with a number of other regulars.
The 7-0 at the Camp Nou makes tonight's fixture a dead rubber; Copa del Rey semi-final second leg clashes don't come any more tightly wrapped up as this. Valencia have two major concerns ahead of this match and neither of them involve Barcelona. One is somehow trying to gloss over the latest string of disastrous results in order to appease the baying Mestalla mob. The other is the question of how many players Gary Neville can afford to rest for the week's real game, Saturday's meeting with fellow strugglers Espanyol. Luis Enrique is dealing with a similar issue. Barca achieved their objective of shoring things up in the first leg to earn a restful week at the beginning of February. Now the Asturian's mind will be focused on the upcoming league games against his former club Celta and Sporting Gijon.
Valencia head into tonight's match like a child returning to school after the summer holidays: low on morale. Any hope of lifting the Cup title evaporated in Barcelona and now all they can expect for their last hurrah in this year's edition of the competition is an earful from their disgruntled fans. Neville is no longer ignoring the fact that his team are now in a fight for top flight survival. With that in mind the former 'Monday Night Football' pundit has called up seven academy players for tonight's swan song. The Copa del Rey regulations stipulate that there must be at least seven first team players on the pitch at any given time.
Meanwhile, Luis Enrique will let his front line trio, plus a few other regulars, sit this one out. As such the Barca line-up remains a bit of a secret. As if Neville didn't already have enough on his plate.
Guardiola's record could become a footnote history should the Catalans avoid defeat for a 29th straight game. The likes of Mathieu, Bartra, Adriano, Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal will more than likely be given a run out to help secure this feat.
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