Barcelona handed double injury boost ahead of Copa del Rey clash

Barcelona coach Xavi has been able to call upon fit again defenders Joao Cancelo and Andreas Christensen for Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Club.

Both players have been named in the 22-player squad for the quarter-final tie at San Mames in Bilbao, having recently missed games due to injury.

Christensen was absent from the weekend win over Real Betis in La Liga with an abdominal issue. Cancelo was out for longer, picking up a knee problem in the opening game of 2024 against Las Palmas and being sidelined for five subsequent games across all competitions, including the whole Supercopa de Espana campaign in Saudi Arabia and earlier Copa del Rey rounds.

Joao Cancelo has only played 11 minutes in 2024Joao Cancelo has only played 11 minutes in 2024

Joao Cancelo has only played 11 minutes in 2024 / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Xavi, who has been able to keep the wolves from the door so to speak amid building pressure, is still without a number of key players in Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gavi and Raphinha. Marcos Alonso and Inigo Martinez also don’t make the trip north to the Basque city.

It means there continue to be opportunities for younger players to be included in the matchday squad. Lamine Yamal is a regular fixture of the first-team now, but he is joined by the likes of Fermin Lopez, Marc Guiu, Pau Cubarsi and Hector Fort. Back-up goalkeeper Aron Yaakobishvili, who turns 18 in March, also makes the senior cut for only the third time this season.

22-player Barcelona squad to face Athletic Club – Copa del Rey

Goalkeepers: Pena, Astralaga, Yaakobishvili

Defenders: Cancelo, Balde, Araujo, Christensen, Kounde, Cubarsi, Fort

Midfielders: Pedri, Romeu, Roberto, De Jong, Gundogan, Lopez

Forwards: Torres, Lewandowski, Felix, Roque, Yamal, Guiu

Having dominated the competition during the 2010s, Barca are seeking their first Copa del Rey triumphs since 2021. Real Sociedad are the first team through to the semi-finals after beating Celta Vigo on Tuesday. Atletico Madrid, who knocked out city rivals Real Madrid in the last round, are up against Sevilla on Thursday, while Girona travel to Mallorca a couple of hours before Barca kick off.


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