Barcelona respond after report claims they will be disqualified from Copa del Rey

Levante v FC Barcelona - Copa del Rey Round of 16

Barcelona are in danger of crashing out of the Copa del Rey at the last-16 stage.

Ernesto Valverde’s side lost 2-1 to Levante in the first-leg last week and will need to do the business at the Camp Nou on Thursday night.

Barca made plenty of changes for their trip to Levante, with the likes of Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez left out altogether.

Instead, it was a front-three of Malcom, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho.

But they found themselves 2-0 down inside 18 minutes and needed an 85th-minute penalty from Coutinho to haul themselves back into the tie.

Barca will no doubt play a much stronger side in the second-leg.

However, on Thursday afternoon, a report was produced claiming that Barca will be expelled from the competition regardless of the second-leg result.

El Mundo - the second biggest daily newspaper in Spain - are suggesting that Barca fielded an ineligible player in Juan Brandariz, better known as Chumi.

They claim that Chumi was supposed to be suspended from the Spanish FA (RFEF) after picking up his fifth booking of the season in the Segunda B against Castellon on Sunday.

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But Barca played him in the first-leg - in which he was also booked and hauled off after 58 minutes.

Article 76 of the RFEF's disciplinary code states: "To the club that sets an ineligible line-up with a footballer who does not comply with the regulations to be able to participate in a game, this will be given as a defeat, declaring the opponent the winner by a secore of three goals to zero, unless the winning margin was greater.

"In the case of a knockout tie, it will be resolved in favour of the opponent."

Levante v FC Barcelona - Copa del Rey Round of 16

But Barca have issued an immediate response.

According to Spanish outlet Sport, they have denied illegally playing Chumi.

They claim that a rule change means that ‘light suspensions’ take place in the competition they were acquired in.

Therefore, it's believed that Chumi would have served his suspension against Alcoyano last weekend for Barcelona B.

Incidentally, something similar happened to Real Madrid three seasons ago, who played Russian winger Denis Cheryshev in a Copa del Rey fixture against Cadiz, not realising he was suspended.

Madrid were duly kicked out of the competition.

Are Barca right in thinking they've done nothing wrong? Watch this space...

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