Barcelona manager Luis Enrique will rest up to 11 first-team players in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Valencia on Wednesday night (11 February), after his team all but booked their place in the final last week with a 7-0 victory over Gary Neville's men in the first leg.
Claudio Bravo, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves, Arda Turan, Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi and Neymar have all been left out of the squad – along with long-term injury absentee Rafinha Alcantara – with a number of academy prospects covering their absences.
The Spanish manager urged his side to not take anything for granted in a press conference ahead of the second leg, despite the huge advantage secured at the Nou Camp. Nevertheless, the Barcelona boss has taking advantage of that result by rotating his squad ahead of a busy February. The Catalan giants have a Champions League last-16 trip to Arsenal on 23 February, as well as La Liga matches against Celta Vigo, Sporting Gijon, Las Palmas and Sevilla – which could be crucial in their hopes to regain the title.
Luis Enrique has thus completed his 18-man squad to face Valencia with five players from the Barcelona B team in the shape of Wilfrid Kaptoum, Sergi Samper, Dani Romera, Juan Camara and Gerard Gumbau, as well as U19 midfielder Carles Aleña.
The Barcelona manager is expected to deploy an experimental line-up without any of the MSN trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar, after the Argentine underwent minor kidney surgery to solve the colic problems he had come down with in December.
Pique, Mascherano, Iniesta and Suarez himself are also out of the squad, as the four Barcelona stars were all one yellow card away from suspension for the final. Turan's absence is most ominous as he did not play in the weekend victory against Levante and was expected to see pitch time against Valencia. However, after missing Tuesday's training session Barcelona have decided to not risk him, in an effort to have key players available for Sunday's encounter with Celta Vigo.