Luis Enrique to rest 11 Barcelona stars against Valencia in Copa del Rey second leg

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Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has announced the squad he will take to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday night.

The Spaniard saw his side dismantle Gary Neville’s men 7-0 in the first leg last week to render the prospect of a comeback near impossible.

Given their progression is nigh on guaranteed, Barcelona could be excused for using the fixture as an opportunity to give some of their academy players some first-team experience - and Enrique is prepared to do just that.


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The 45-year-old has elected to pull no fewer than 11 first-choice players from the 18-man squad tasked with securing the club’s fifth appearance in the Copa del Rey final since the 2010/11 season.

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta have all been given the night off to allow the inclusion of several hot prospects from La Masia.

Enrique has handed six Barca B players, including Wilfrid Kaptoum, Sergi Samper, Juan Camara and Gerard Gumbau, a chance to demonstrate their ability against La Liga opposition, while Under-19s starlet Carles Alena could also feature.

The Barcelona boss has not completely shuffled his deck, though, with first-team regulars Ivan Rakitic, Marc Bartra, Jeremy Mathieu and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen also making the trip south.

Considering the advantage of a 7-0 buffer is likely to induce a hint of complacency among the Barcelona camp, the opportunity for Enrique to better Pep Guardiola’s record 28-match winning streak as head coach is sure to provide a motivational boost.

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