Levante v Barcelona- Preview and possible lineups
Having performed well but lacked a finishing touch when the sides met in December, Levante will hope that if they have their shooting boots on this Thursday, they can build a strong foundation for a big cup upset against the current holders.
Armando Sadiku, Cheick Doukoure and Pedro Lopez remain sidelined with respective injuries, so will not play any part in this clash. However aside from these concerns, head coach Lopez has a full compliment of players at his disposal. On loan from Real Madrid, forward Borja Mayoral will be hopeful of a start against his parent club's big rivals, while Boateng, Simon and Fernandez should also be given the chance to demonstrate their talents.
As current holders of this competition, the 'Blaugrana' will be hoping to advance to at least the final, as they bid to retain a domestic double from last season. Yet they will have to do so, at least for the first leg, without their leading lights Lionel Messi and Luis Surez, who have both been left out of the travelling party for the away first leg tie.
That said, Barcelona will still be expected to take a comfortable lead home with them for the second leg. Rafinha, Samper, Umtiti and Vermaelen all remain on the sidelines and will pay no part in this contest. Yet aside from this, some other senior stars will still feature, alongside an expected host of academy graduates looking to impress. Jeison Murillo could make his debut, after signing on loan from Valencia during the winter break. Meanwhile Oriol Busquets, Juan Miranda, and Chumi Bradariz will all be hopeful of enjoying some senior minutes for the holders.
"We will try to make fewer mistakes than in that last game. It serves as a reference, but our mentality is going to be the same. Taking into account that we play on Sunday morning and we play again next Thursday there will be changes for sure."
"We want to get two competitive line-ups to try to win both games.We want to have people fresh, but we want to get the best possible team. I approach the Barcelona game as if it were a league match. Barcelona are a great team, but in one match we can beat any team."
"With a league game around the corner on Sunday, we will make changes. I am sure they will, too, even though our ambition is to get through to the next round. Messi and Suarez could be rested, it’s a possibility."
"We start as favourites but Levante are a good side and they will push us as they did in the league game. We will make changes and I suppose that they will do the same. I don’t agree with all the talk that the Copa del Rey is a waste of time. We have to be excited about it, as it gives us a lot and we love playing the final and the semi-final. We have to go for it and not give anything up."
DID YOU KNOW?
Barcelona won comfortbaly when the sides last met in December, with Lionel Messi inspiring his side to a 5-0 victory.
The last time that the teams met in the Cup, Barcelona recorded a resounding 9-2 aggregate triumph.
Levante: Aitor; Coke, Cabaco, Rober, Luna; Mayoral, Prcic, Vukcevic, Simon; Boateng, Dwamen
Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Chumi, Murillo, Miranda; Oriol Busquets, Alena, Arthur; Malcom, Dembele, Coutinho