Casual and die-hard FC Barcelona fans alike have a rare opportunity to see the brightest talents La Masia has to offer when the blaugrana host Deportivo Alavés Wednesday evening in the second leg of the Copa del Rey round of 32. Having already qualified for the next round of the Champions League and flaunting a comfortable 3-0 lead in the tie with Alavés, Tito Vilanova will likely field a team of hungry upstarts seeking to prove themselves to the first team coach as well as the Camp Nou faithful.
Vilanova enters the second leg of the tie of Pinto’s cup with seven first team players watching from the stands. Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba and Victor Valdés will all get the day off while B teamers Cristian Tello, Oier Olazabal, Carles Planas, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Deulofeu have been called up.
The Barcelona manager warned that he would not take the fixture lightly and although he likely looks forward to giving the young bloods some valuable playing time, the two goals allowed against Mallorca after being 3-0 up are still a fresh and unsettling memory.
David Villa, who has recovered from some ankle irritation, may feature this evening. Up front we will hopefully see the talents of Deulofeu along with Villa and Tello. Cesc could provide cover in the front as could Pedro, but Tito will probably opt to save them unless he needs to pull a result out of the fire.
Who plays in the middle alongside Sergi Roberto is anyone’s guess, though Jonathan dos Santos or Alex Song as defensive midfielder is really the only option. Javier Mascherano will slide in at center back alongside Carles Puyol or Song. The recently recovered Thiago Alcantara will probably cover some of the midfield next to Sergi Roberto. Full back positions will be covered by Montoya, who has been nothing short of excellent recently, and Carles Planas or Adriano.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Pinto; Adriano, Song, Mascherano, Planas; Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Thiago; Deulofeu, Pedro, Tello
Alavés currently leads the Segunda B despite having veteran strikers Ruben Negredo and Beobide sidelined. Also, Alavés must feature a brand new goalie in the form of Sergio Herrera. First-choice keepers Miguel Martinez and Urtzi Iturrioz will both miss out as the 19-year-old prodigy gets between the sticks.
Probable starting XI (4-2-3-1): Herrera; Rubio, Agustin, Hernández, Jonan; Manu, Miki, Jaume, Guzman, Barahona; Viguera
This should be a cake walk for the blaugrana. Another fine showing from Tello and Pedro should get the home crowd plenty excited.
Barcelona 5-0 Alaves
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