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Match preview: Hércules CF v FC Barcelona

 

The blaugrana’s defence of the Copa del Rey begins with a trip to the Estadio José Rico Pérez in Alicante in the Round of 32 FC Barcelona begin their Copa del Rey defence against Hércules CF at the Estadio José Rico Pérez in the first leg of the Round of 32 on Wednesday night.


Luis Enrique ’s side go into the game on the back of an enduring 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad, and will be looking to secure a morale-boosting win ahead of Saturday’s Clásico.

Team news
Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba picked up knocks in the recent league game at
Anoeta and so are doubtful for Wednesday’s encounter. Samuel Umtiti completed a full session on Tuesday and Luis Enrique confirmed he is "100 percent and ready to go".
Andrés Iniesta is back to full fitness after a lengthy layoff, but will miss the game through suspension.

Coaches’ viewpoint
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Luis Enrique was keen to warn of a potential upset: “We are returning to a competition in which we have great memories and to win it again first of all we need to beat Hércules. It is obvious that there is a difference in level but we have seen lots
of times how teams from lower divisions have knocked out those from the first division.”
On the other hand, Hércules boss Luis Tevenet wants his players to go out and enjoy the occasion despite the difficulty of the tie: “Our chances of winning are very small,” but added that “it has to be like a celebration for us, a magical night that we must enjoy”.

 Form
Barça go into the game without a win in their last two domestic games and have on just two of their last five games in all competitions, meaning that this game will not be taken lightly as Luis Enrique’s men will be looking get back to winning ways.

Division 2B Group III side Hércules have not been enjoying the best of times either of late, with two straight losses in their last two games which has seen them drop to sixth in the table.

History
The last time the two teams met in cup competition was in 1995/96, when Barça drew 0-0 away from home before taking the tie with a 4-1 win in Catalonia. In 1956, it was a bit closer, as Barça needed a 2-1 win away in the second leg to go through after a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou.
You may remember Hércules from their shock 2-0 win at Camp Nou back in 2010, when the newly-promoted side stunned the home faithful early on in the campaign. Barça did, however, manage to exact revenge later in the season in the reverse fixture with a 3-0 win thanks to two goals from Leo Messi and one from Pedro Rodriguez.

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