Barcelona go into this evening’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg with a number of absentees in attack. Xavi was forced to leave two of his top goal scorers out of the 21-man squad which flew down to the capital.
Pedri suffered a hamstring tear in the first leg of last year’s UEFA Europa League tie with Manchester United. He will be out for at least another couple of weeks, so he should be back for the return leg at the Camp Nou, but in the meantime, Barça will have to do without a player who has contributed eight goals, six of them in the league. , when they take to the pitch at the Bernabéu tonight.
Another of Xavi’s in-form strikers, Ousmane Dembélé, also stayed at home. The winger, whose solitary strike against Real Sociedad was enough to fire Barca into the semi-finals, has eight goals and seven assists this season. He succumbed to the injury in a league match against Girona on 28 January, suffering a torn left hamstring which will keep him out until mid-March.
It’s hard to predict which Barça we’ll see at the Bernabéu tonight – a reliable, solid side cruising through LaLiga with just two defeats, or a disastrous, disjointed side completely off the rails in Europe (just two wins, both against Viktoria Plzeň in eight games with 16 goals conceded).