Barcelona to field stars in Copa del Rey
World Cup winners David Villa and Andres Iniesta are set to start for Barcelona at Alaves on Tuesday night as the Copa del Rey holders aim to begin the defence of the trophy by continuing their unbeaten start to the current season.
Internationals Alex Song, Alexis Sanchez, Daniel Alves, Adriano Correia and Javier Mascherano should also feature in a strong Barca starting XI, in which Spanish U-21 youngsters Cristian Tello, Sergi Roberto and Marc Bartra are expected to be given further chances to impress. Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets will likely be on the bench to be called upon if required.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova said at Monday's pre-game press conference at the Camp Nou that it was important to maintain the momentum generated by Barca's start to the season, which has seen the club win 13 and draw one (against rivals Real Madrid) of their opening 14 games, as the mood could quickly sour if things started to go wrong.
"We are doing well, but this has only begun," Vilanova said. "I have the good fortune to be born here. I know that the current nice words will end as soon as we lose a game. Statistically, we are now closer to lose a game than to keep winning them all."
Copa keeper Jose Pinto should start between the sticks against the 2001 UEFA Cup finalists, who have since slipped to Spain's third tier, with regular number one Victor Valdes rested. Fellow first-teamers Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Pedro Rodriguez and Jordi Alba are also to remain in Barcelona.