Copa del Rey semi-final first leg preview: Barça vs Villarreal

Barça 3-2 Villarreal Messi 2015Just ten days after Barça beat Villarreal 3-2 in La Liga Marcelino Garcia Toral’s team return to Camp Nou for the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final (Wednesday 8 pm). Luis Enrique Martinez has all his key players available and Barça will be looking for a healthy lead to take to Villarreal for the second leg on March 4.

With nine wins on the trot there is plenty of reason for optimism, while the 2-5 win at San Mames demonstrated there was truth to Luis Enrique’s claim that the players had trained at their best level of the season last week. The cup-tie now offers the Barça coach his first chance of reaching a final and he seems likely to start with his strongest XI.

The fact that the players will have had less than 72 hours rest since the victory over Athletic may cause Lucho to use fresh legs and there are plenty of reasons to give the likes of Marc Bartra, Rafinha and Pedro a start tomorrow. However, the most probable changes to Sunday’s team will be Marc-Andre Ter Stegen returning as cup goalkeeper and Javier Mascherano and Andrés Iniesta coming back in place of Jeremy Mathieu and Xavi Hernández. This would mean the same XI of Ter Stegen, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suárez and Neymar that beat Atlético at the Calderón in the last round.

It was clear in the recent league meeting that Villarreal will be no push-overs. Marcelino rested several keys players in his team’s 2-0 victory over Granada at the weekend which suggests he could play a very similar line-up to the one that lost here in the league.

Finally, instead of my usual prediction I will now be making a bet with Willian Hill. Sometimes it will be the correct score but I may also go for other options like first goalscorer, half-time/full-time result, etc.

Possible teams:

Barça: Ter Stegen: Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.

Villarreal: Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, V.Ruiz, J.Costa; Johnathan dos Santos, Bruno, Pina, Cheryshev; Vietto, Giovani dos Santos.

My bet: Correct score – Barça 2 Villarreal 0 (current odds 8.00) – The best odds for soccer betting are at William Hill

Date: Wednesday 11 February 2015. Kick-off 8 pm local time.

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5 Responses to Copa del Rey semi-final first leg preview: Barça vs Villarreal

  1. layibiyi says:

    Should be another good one!

  2. Barca4Lyfe says:

    I’m going for a 3-1 Barcelona win here

  3. Fredegar says:

    Interesting times to be a Barça fan! I must say that this last month has given me more satisfaction than the last two and a half years… No disrespect to Tito, but that league win was frankly a bit boring as Real surrendered in early season and Atletico were still not a match. And of course there was the Bayern CL semi-final… And last season was more of a fight, but a fight we lost in a somewhat tame fashion…
    Something that strikes me is that, for all our defensive fragility over the last years, we’ve been beaten mostly by teams that stopped us scoring, and sometimes our lack of threat in the last third was very frustrating. I, like many others, was very skeptical of the idea of throwing hundreds of millions in the direction of Neymar and Suarez when our most pressing needs seemed to be in defense, but look at the force we’ve become again!
    Suarez might not be scoring a lot, but his presence is already hugely important. He brings us a physical presence in the final third that we were clearly lacking, and the impact this has had on Messi and Neymar is fantastic. Sanchez and Pedro are clearly excellent players, but Suarez brings us another dimension, one that these two players couldn’t provide. And the defense seems to have sorted itself out finally (who could have thought?), although of course it’s still far from perfect…
    One month is a tiny period of time so all this will have to be proved on a longer term, starting tonight against Villarreal, but when I think of us today in Europe, I feel that we are a force again, whereas last two seasons I thought of us as outsiders, for my mind at least, that’s a big improvement 🙂

  4. Barca4Lyfe says:

    Looking at the line up I’m going for a

    4-0 Barcelona !!

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