The Copa del Rey has turned into an Undertaker match at WrestleMania. You know who’s winning, and it’s Barcelona. The Blaugrana have absolutely owned this competition over the last few years, winning the last three finals and establishing themselves as the real Kings of Spain, which is fun. Really fun.
The new season of the Spanish Cup starts on Tuesday night for Barcelona with a trip to Murcia for a Round of 32 match against Real Murcia. Barça will face a team in the Third Division in Spain and are massive favorites to advance over two legs, which is kind of a ridiculous rule in the Copa del Rey. Two-legged ties against Third Division teams are completely unnecessary, but hey, that’s Spain.
This first leg really doesn’t mean a lot, because even if it ends in a draw or a shocking loss Barça will easily finish the job in the second leg, so this is a game you don’t really need to watch. If you want, you might see some good young players. If Valverde plays them, of course.
MATCH INFO, TV/STREAMING
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 9:30pm local time, 8:30pm (UK & Nigeria), 3:30pm ET, 12:30pm PT (USA), 1am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Nueva Condomina, Murcia, Spain
Television: beIN SPORTS (USA, Canada, Spain), Not Televised (UK, India), Kwesé Sports 2 (Nigeria)
Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
Ernesto Valverde decided to rest seven players (Ter Stegen, Umtiti, Busquets, Paulinho, Iniesta, Messi, Suárez) for the first leg, and only 12 first teamers will travel to Murcia. Four Barça B players have been called, which is a big deal for them, and the best news is that two of the most talented youngsters at the club will not only get the chance to play but will probably start.
The first is Marc Cucurella, who is quite possible the best left-back prospect in a long time. The 19-year-old has everything to succeed in the top level, and with Jordi Alba injured and Lucas Digne playing the last two matches in a short period Cucurella has a big chance of making his debut from the first whistle.
The other is Carles Aleñá, a ridiculously talented midfielder who’s having an amazing start to the season, and given he played a lot of minutes in preseason and seems to have Valverde’s trust, he’ll probably start alongside Sergi Roberto and André Gomes in midfield.
We’ll see a lot of rotations from Valverde in this one, and if the kids get chances they’ll definitely show their talent against a pretty bad team.
Cillessen; Semedo, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Cucurella; Roberto, Gomes, Aleñá; Deulofeu, Alcácer, Denis
Santomé; Orfila, Mateos, Juanra, Llorente; Domínguez, Carnicer, Bravo; Jara, Xiscu, Martín
We always start slow in the Copa before destroying teams in the second leg, but we’ll get a nice win this time: 3-0 Barça.