COPA DEL REY | VALENCIA - BARCELONA
Messi, Suarez, Neymar and co. given the night off
Last week’s goal fest at the Camp Nou has earned the bulk of the Barcelona starters a midweek rest. Luis Enrique heads to Mestalla with five reserve team players in tow.
Luis Enrique is bringing five players from the reserves as well as Aleñá from the Barcelona Under-19s to face Gary Neville's side tonight. The Barca manager has elected to protect as many of his first team regulars as possible from the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg fixture, including Arda Turan.
The reigning champions' latest squad list includes 18 players, five of whom are from the reserve team as well as young whippersnapper Aleñá: Ter Stegen, Masip, Douglas, Rakitic, Bartra, Munir, Sandro, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen, Mathieu, Samper, Cámara, Gumbau, Kaptoum, Romera and Aleñá.
As had been predicted, but never confirmed by the man himself, Luis Enrique has opted to keep his sacred cows at home. Rakitic was the only regular starter who embarked on the trip to Mestalla this morning. Along with Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi, the Asturian will have to make do tonight without the likes of Bravo, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Iniesta and Arda Turan. The Turkish midfielder's exclusion from the Valencia game points to the Barcelona manager's plans to bed him in as a fixture in his starting line-ups.