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Cup dilemma for Barca coach Valverde

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IANS Madrid
FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has a tough decision to make ahead of his side's Copa del Rey quarterfinal return leg at home to Sevilla on Wednesday.
Sevilla's 2-0 win over a much-changed Barca in last week's first leg gives the team that Barca beat in last season's final an important advantage, and an away goal for Pablo Machin's men on Wednesday would leave Barcelona with a mountain to climb, reports Xinhua news agency.
It seems obvious Valverde is giving priority to La Liga and the Champions League this season, but he must be tempted to bring Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez back into his starting 11, while Sergio Busquets, who is suspended for next weekend's home game with Valencia, is also likely to play.
At times it seems as if Valverde is in a no-win situation; criticised if he doesn't rest players and then criticised for overplaying Messi and company, but with the chance of a historic fifth successive Copa, it's likely Messi will play.
The quarterfinal return legs begin on Tuesday, with Valencia looking to overturn a 0-1 first leg deficit at home to Getafe.
Valencia go into the tie buoyed by a 3-0 win over Villarreal on Saturday, while Getafe looked distracted as they produced an uncharacteristically tepid display to lose 0-2 away to Atletico Madrid.
Monday's announcement that this season's final will be played at their Benito Villamarin stadium should give Real Betis a major boost as they entertain Espanyol.
The tie is level at 1-1 after the first leg and despite a recent blip, in-form Betis are favourites against a side who have lost nine of their last 10 league matches.
The quarterfinals end on Thursday when Real Madrid defend a 4-2 first leg advantage in Girona.
Madrid should have Sergio Ramos available after it was confirmed that his knee wasn't seriously injured in Sunday's 4-2 win away to Espanyol, while Gareth Bale could make his first start after injury and Keylor Navas will play in goal.
--IANS
tri/nir

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First Published: Jan 29 2019 | 10:26 PM IST

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