Ronald Koeman can take a step closer to winning his second Copa del Rey as a manager when Barcelona travel to Madrid on Wednesday at 8pm (UK time) to take on Rayo Vallecano in the round-of-16.
Koeman famously clinched the 2007/08 Copa del Rey during his polarising stint as Valencia manager, and he will now be hoping to replicate that success as Barca boss when his side take on Segunda Division outfit Vallecano in midweek.
How to live stream Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona online:
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Where to watch Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona on TV:
- UK: Premier Sports 1
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Barcelona
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Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Rayo Vallecano are currently embarking on their second successive season in the Segunda Division having finished dead last in the 2018/19 La Liga campaign. Los Franjirrojos finished seventh last term but are up to fourth this time around under Athletic Bilbao legend Andoni Iraola.
The Blaugrana meanwhile have found some rhythm under Koeman after a concerning start to his tenure, with the Catalan club up to third in La Liga and favourites to win this competition with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid already eliminated to lower-league opposition.
- Rayo Vallecano (vs Mallorca): Dimitrievski; Advincula, Velazquez, Marugan, F Garcia; Suarez, Trejo, Palazon, Pozo, A Garcia; Bebe.
- Barcelona (vs Elche): Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, De Jong, Pedri; Dembele, Braithwaite, Griezmann.
Lionel Messi returns from his two-game suspension, but whether Koeman starts his skipper or keeps him on ice for this weekend’s Athletic Bilbao clash remains to be seen (though he has been named in the travelling squad). Sergino Dest is injured, while Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho and Moussa Wague remain long-term absentees for the visitors. Matheus Fernandes has been left out of the squad.
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Players to watch:
- Rayo Vallecano: He has gone down in Premier League folklore as one of Manchester United’s most bizarre signings, but Bebe has fashioned a decent enough career for himself post-Old Trafford, and could start only his second game of the campaign against Barca. He was given an hour in the 3-1 loss to Mallorca at the weekend, which was his first start since overcoming a cruciate ligament rupture, which kept him sidelined for most of last season, and he will now be hoping to get some further minutes under his belt to find form once again. Should Iraola give Bebe the nod, it will be interesting to see the 30-year-old copes against a heavyweight backline.
- Barcelona: Miralem Pjanic is yet to really get going in a Barca shirt and having been an unused substitute at the weekend, the Bosnian may get a starting berth on Wednesday. The 30-year-old played the full 120 minutes in the previous round as Barca needed extra-time to see off third-tier UE Cornella last week, and he will likely be given the chance to impress once again. In Serie A there were few midfielders as influential or elegant in possession than Pjanic, and on paper he is an archetypal Barca player, but for one reason or another he is yet to hit his stride in Catalonia. If he is to elbow his way to the front of the queue and ensure his Barca stint is not an unsuccessful one, then he will need to impress when given a chance, and that could come later this week.
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