La Copa News 

Marcelino warns his players ahead of Barca tie

Valencia boss Marcelino Garcia Toral has told his players to take Thursday evening’s Copa del Rey clash with Barcelona with care and sense.

Los Che are 1-0 down after Luis Suarez’s strike last Thursday at the Mestalla and they are underdogs heading into the second leg at the Camp Nou.

Having had a good season in the league thus far, Valencia have been impressing on all accounts and deservedly are in the latter stages of the cup but they must produce a big performance against Ernesto Valverde’s men to progress.

“It is important for us to know how Barcelona conduct themselves and seek to avoid traps,” Marcelino told reporters, as quoted by Marca.

“We must ensure we are not distracted by the opposition and not just in terms of football, but traps and clever provocations – this is important.

“Messi rested against Espanyol? We know they have a lot of respect for us and for this game after the five changes for that match, but that is just how we want it.

“It is obvious they are a stronger team with Messi than without him, but that is simply something we must deal with.

“I am convinced our motivation and desire are at the right levels going into the difficult game, we will leave everything on the pitch.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona boss Valverde has said he expects Gerard Pique to start Thursday evening’s tie.

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The Catalan centre-back scored the equaliser against rivals Espanyol on Sunday afternoon but finished the game with a knock after a rough challenge from Gerard Moreno.

The 31-year-old was set for a month out, according to various reports – and was expected to miss the upcoming Champions League clash with Chelsea later this month.

Early reports claimed Pique will be back in early March, meaning Valverde now had limited defensive options ahead of the Copa del Rey second leg with Valencia this week.

However, his inclusion in the Copa del Rey squad for Thursday night’s semi-final second leg has left fans with the expectation that he will start for Barca.

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