La Copa Match Centre 

CDR Semi Final Preview – Barcelona vs Valencia

The second of the two Copa del Rey semi finals first legs takes place at the Camp Nou on Thursday night with La Liga leaders hosting third placed Valencia.

The two sides have had fantastic seasons so far with the Catalans still unbeaten in the league and in their league meeting earlier this season nothing could separate the two sides with goals from Rodrigo and Jordi Alba seeing the match finish 1-1 at the Mestalla.

With the second leg taking place in Valencia, Los Che will be hopeful of taking something back home with them and securing a final place at home but Barcelona are very tough to play, unbeaten at home, with their only defeat in all competitions coming in a 1-0 reverse in the last round of the cup against Espanyol and they are of course heavy favourites.

Both sides have come through three rounds to get here, Barcelona defeating Real Murcia (7-0), Celta Vigo (6-1) and Espanyol (2-1) with Valencia getting past Real Zaragoza (6-1), Las Palmas (5-1) and Alaves on penalties after a 3-3 draw over the two legs.

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was under no illusions as to how tough it will be for his side against Los Che, despite their amazing form. He said: “It’s vital to put in a good performance in the first leg because they are very strong in Mestalla. It will be important not to concede. It’s an open tie and an attractive one for both teams. It will be tough for both sides.”

His opposite number Marcelino has a few injury problems to contend with as well as facing who he called “the most in-form side in Europe” but doesn’t want his side to give up, saying: “We still have the rest of the squad. We aren’t giving this up as lost. We are excited about the chance to make it into the final.”

Thomas Vermaelen, Ousmane Dembele and Andre Gomes are all out injured for Barca with Nelson Semedo missing out of the squad.

Valencia will be without four key players for the first leg with Ezequiel Garay, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Goncalo Guedes and Jeison Murillo all out.

Barcelona Squad: Ter Stegen, Cillessen; Pique, Alba, Digne, Vidal, Umtiti, Mina; Rakitic, Busquets, D. Suarez, Iniesta, Paulinho, Roberto, Coutinho; L. Suarez, Messi, Alcacer

Valencia Squad: Jaume, Neto; Vezo, Gabriel, Gaya, Montoya, Lato, Vidal; Maksimovic, Parejo, Pereira, Soler, Coquelin, Ferran; Zaza, Rodrigo, Mina, Vietto

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