Our first game of the new year sees us play against CF Intercity, in the Copa Del Rey round of 32. Its our first fiscal game of the 2023, and is also our debut in the Spanish cup competition this year. We’ll be looking to bounce back from that very frustrating result against espanyol on New Years Eve, where our lack of clinical finishing. And the effect of the absolute circus show put on by Mateu Lahoz. Saw us drop valuable points in the title race. So we’ll be looking for a much more positive result tonight.
A quick look at our opponent:
CF Intercity are a team based in San Juan de Alicante, near Valencia. They play in the RFEF- Group 2. Which is the third tear of Spanish football. They’re a very modern club, being founded only 6 years ago in 2017.
What to expect?
When looking at the squad list selected by our coach Xavi, you can see that we’re going strong. Usually in the early stages of the Copa Del Rey, you might see some debuts from the youth academy. And it was partly expected that we would even see our brightest talent at La Masia right now, 15 year old Lamine Yamal. However, this time around, there will be no youth players called up. Instead, the full first team is summoned. Apart from Lewandowski and Pedri who are both being rested. There have been people who aren’t happy with that decision to go full strength for tonight’s game. But for me, I can totally understand why Xavi has decided to do it.
The whole squad was separated for more than 50 days due to the World Cup. We haven’t had a single friendly/ warm up match before we returned. And although for the first 35 minutes of football against Espanyol, we played really well. You could clearly see a lack of rhythm between the players. So tonight’s game will act as an opportunity for the squad to build up chemistry. Which is especially important ahead of our trip to the Metropolitano on Sunday. One other thing it allows us to, is reintroduce the man who we have missed in our defence so much for the last 3 months. Ronald Araujo.
Xavi confirmed in his press conference yesterday that Araujo will start against Intercity tonight. Which is incredible news. Getting him back up to match fitness is vital for what we aspire to do this season.
The big news from yesterday morning came in the form of our goalkeeper Iñaki Peña. Who, after a nervous wait, has finally been registered as a first team player. Meaning that he is available to play later tonight. Araujo will start at central defence, most likely joined alongside Eric Garcia. At RB, i think we will see Bellerin. He drastically needs to improve his performances, because he really hasn’t convinced at all since signing for free in the summer.
Our RB spot is in desperate need of renovation. Kounde plays incredibly well there, but of course we want to start to see him building up a partnership in central defence with Araujo. Thats why we bought him, and I’ve no doubt that in the future, we will see that become a reality. Balde should get the start at LB. He’s our best player in that position by far. And this is a game where he could shine!
In midfield, it would be amazing to see Pablo Torre get a start. Alongside Kessie and Gavi. Kessie deserves some minutes in the team. He’s a quality player but he has been struggling to adapt to out style of play. This would be a great opportunity for him.
In our attack, we simply have to do more. Our wingers have to be more productive in terms of goal scoring and playmaking. Not to mention, we are still not sure whether or not Lewandowski will be available for the game against Atleti on Sunday. So it’ll be a good chance to experiment with a possible attack without Lewandowski.
Bellerin- Araujo- Eric- Balde
Torre- Kessie- Gavi
Dembele- Ferran- Ansu