After securing their fifth-consecutive Copa del Rey final appearance following a 2-0 win over Valencia in the semi-final second leg, Barcelona’s attention return to La Liga.
The Catalans could go nine points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table with a win against Getafe at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Here, we look at the key talking points ahead of the encounter.
Dembele return gives Barca boost
Barcelona fans have barely caught a glimpse of Ousmane Dembele since his €105 million (Dh472.3m) transfer from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
An injury-plagued first season in Spain has been frustrating for the young France forward, but he has been included in the squad to face Getafe after being given the all-clear by medical staff.
Ernesto Valverde will no doubt be cautious with the 20-year-old but there’s every chance that he will play some part against the Blues. With the Champions League round of 16 tie against Chelsea to come next week, a fit Dembele with a few minutes under his belt will hand the Catalans a huge boost in attack going into the business end of the season with the treble in their sights.
Chance for Coutinho to make a statement
After scoring his first goal as a Barcelona player in the win over Valencia, Philippe Coutinho will be keen to establish himself in the first eleven and play a key role as the team chase down silverware in the final stages of the campaign.
A period of acclimatisation was always going to be in store for the Brazilian after making the switch from Liverpool.
However, having been the playmaker in chief at Anfield, he will be itching to take centre stage, or at least share it with the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez etc. Against Getafe, Coutinho will be keen to build on his fine second half-display at the Mestalla and hopefully earn a place in the starting line-up when the Blaugrana take on Chelsea in Europe.
Can Mina step up?
For too long Barcelona have relied on their first-choice centre-back pairing.
Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique have emerged as the central defensive duo this season but the Frenchman’s muscle injury over the winter fixtures meant the unreliable Thomas Vermaelen needed to be drafted in, who has since been sidelined with injury again. Pique has usually been the constant but after limping off in midweek, he’s in a race to be fit for the encounter with Chelsea next week.
Barcelona have always been precariously light in terms of defensive personnel but Yerry Mina’s arrival is supposed to rectify that. The Colombia international was meant to be eased into proceedings but now looks set to start against Getafe.
A solid display at Camp Nou could prove significant, not only to offer a solid back-up should Pique suffer a setback in his bid to recover for the Champions League tie, but also to provide reassurance that in the long-term, Barcelona no longer need to be as reliant on their Spanish defensive stalwart as they have been in recent years.
There’s no disputing it – Barcelona are the Kings of the King’s Cup.
We’ve plucked out a few of the numbers that demonstrate just how dominant Barcelona are, and why Sevilla should be concerned when they meet in the Copa del Rey final on April 21.
The last time that Barcelona did not make the final of the Copa del Rey, and you’d have to go back to 2010 for the last time they failed to at least make the semi-final stage. Five successive finals had never before been achieved in the competition’s 114-year history.
Career goals for Lionel Messi in the Copa del Rey though it’s good enough for only ninth among the competition’s top goal-scorers.
There are a few obvious targets he will be aiming to surpass in the final, with former Real Madrid hero Santillana just one ahead.
And then there’s a couple of early La Liga pioneers, Hungary-born duo Laszlo Kubala and Ferenc Puskas, tantalisingly perched on 49.
Should Barca triumph against Sevilla it would be their fourth Copa del Rey title in a row – a feat only accomplished by Real (1905-1908) and Athletic Club (1930-1933) so far.
Andres Iniesta, Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique will be out to secure their fifth Copa del Rey success overall. The record-holder, Athletic’s Piru Gainza, sits on seven.
Barca have lifted the Copa del Rey 29 times in their history – six clear of second-most successful club Athletic and 10 ahead of Real Madrid. A 30th title is now in their sights.
Given that Athletic have not even reached a final since 1984 – in which time Barca have got their hands on the silverware on nine occasions – it’s fair to say they won’t be caught any time soon.
First leg result: Barcelona 1-0 Valencia
Barcelona injuries: Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Vermaelen
Valencia injuries: Andreas Pereira, Gonçalo Guedes, Jeison Murillo
Date/Time: Friday, February 9, 2018, 12:30am GST
Venue: Estadio de Mestalla, València, Spain
Where to watch: beIN SPORTS / beIN SPORTS CONNECT (stream)
Luis Suarez‘s second-half goal from last week’s encounter separates the two sides, with the striker in a rich vein of form having put his early-season struggles behind him. However, the Uruguayan will have to watch his step at the Mestalla, as a yellow card will see him miss the final should Barcelona go through.
Valencia were excellent defensively at the Camp Nou, and keeping the deficit down to 1-0 gives them a good chance of pulling off an upset.
They’ll need to be more adventurous in search of a goal to level the tie, which may leave them vulnerable – but despite a recent slump, Valencia’s own attack is potent, and thrilling. Barcelona’s lead is far from a guarantee of getting them through.
The winners will face Sevilla in the final who beat Leganes 2-0 on Wednesday to advance 3-1 on aggregate.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Cillessen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Paulinho; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho
Valencia (4-4-2): Jaume; Montoya, Gabriel, Garay, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Lato; Rodrigo, Santi Mina