Barcelona vs Ceuta LIVE Football Score 19/01/2023
Fresh from clinching his first piece of silverware as Barcelona manager, Xavi now sets out to avoid a Copa del Rey giant killing as the Blaugrana meet third-tier Ceuta in the last 16 on Thursday night.
The visitors to the Alfonso Murube Stadium beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the final of the Supercopa de Espana last time out, while the hosts drew 2-2 with the Blancos’ Castilla side. Already possessing the know-how when it comes to knocking first-tier sides out of the Copa del Rey, Ceuta overcame Utrera and Ibiza in the earlier rounds of the tournament before facing a daunting last-32 meeting with Elche on January 3, but their magical run would not stop there.
Rodri Rios struck the game’s only goal from the penalty spot to send Jose Juan Romero’s team through to the last 16 for the first time in their history, which serves as a rather large silver lining to their ongoing struggles in the Primera Division RFEF. Cueta came back from two goals down to rescue a point against Real Madrid Castilla on Sunday, but their winless run in Group 1 of the third tier now stands at four matches, and they sit rock bottom of the standings in 20th place with just eight points to their name from 19 matches.
An immediate relegation back down to the fourth tier is drawing ever nearer by the week for the Copa del Rey last-16 participants, although they have only suffered one defeat from their last five games at the Alfonso Murube Stadium and have failed to score in just one of their last 17 games on familiar turf.
Perhaps facing an awkward meeting with his opposite number Juan Romero after claiming that Barcelona got “lucky” with the Copa del Rey draw, Xavi could soon be made to eat his words if Ceuta can stun the footballing landscape and knock out the 31-time champions. However, not many will be holding their breath over that eventuality, with Barcelona returning to Copa del Rey duties after clinching the Supercopa de Espana crown, beating Real Betis on penalties in the semi-finals before Gavi, Pedri and Robert Lewandowski netted against Real Madrid in the showpiece event.
No stranger to winning trophies in Catalan colours during his playing days, Xavi is itching for more success in the dugout as his side sit three points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, and eight of their last nine games in all competitions have ended in victory.
La Blaugrana were given quite the scare in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey against Intercity, though, as they went ahead three times but were pegged back on each occasion by 21-year-old Oriol Soldevila, whose astonishing hat-trick was ultimately in vain as Ansu Fati sealed a 4-3 win in extra time.
One would therefore expect Xavi to have learned his lesson about commenting on “lucky” cup draws, as Barcelona aim to avoid a second successive last-16 exit after going out at this stage to Athletic Bilbao – whom they beat in the 2020-21 final – last year.
Ceuta and Barcelona have previously met three times in the Copa del Rey, with the Blaugrana prevailing 3-0 in the 2000-01 third round before a 7-1 aggregate success in the 2010-11 fourth round, where Pedro and Maxwell both netted in a 2-0 first-leg win at the Alfonso Murube Stadium. With no fresh fitness concerns to report from their stalemate with Real Madrid Castilla, Ceuta should once again set up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, unless Juan Romero opts to add in an extra defender to stifle the Blaugrana’s wealth of attacking options.
Rios will miss any potential quarter-final if he is booked, but the 32-year-old can still expect to spearhead the attack, while Liberto Beltran – who started the win over Elche – has now left to join Alcoyano.
Centre-back Fabrizio Danese marked his debut with a goal off the bench against RM Castilla, but the Italian is unlikely to be handed his first start in a tie of this magnitude.
As for Barcelona, Ferran Torres and Lewandowski are both fine to feature in the Copa del Rey amid their La Liga suspensions, meaning that Xavi should be working with a fully-fit squad for the last 16, barring the rested Ronald Araujo.
The Blaugrana boss will no doubt take this opportunity to make a wealth of alterations, starting with Inaki Pena enjoying a rare start in goal, while Hector Bellerin and Eric Garcia ought to be handed opportunities at the back.
Franck Kessie, Sergi Roberto, Pablo Torre and Fati should also be in line for starts, although it remains to be seen if Memphis Depay will be involved amid speculation surrounding a possible January exit.
La Liga giants Barcelona will be flush with confidence following their Supercopa de Espana win over Real Madrid at the weekend and will be eager to face AD Ceuta in the Round of 16 of the Copa Del Rey.
The third-tier side will be hoping to partake in a giant-killing of David vs Goliath proportions in front of their own fans at the Estadio Alfonso Murube. Barcelona are likely to make several changes to the side that started against Real Madrid on Sunday but will still go into the game as favourites. Xavi Hernandez tasted his first trophy as Barcelona manager at the weekend and will be keen to add to his tally this season. The Catalan has already won the trophy thrice as a player in Blaugrana colours and is no stranger to going all the way in the competition.
Barcelona have won the Copa Del Rey 31 times, more than any other side in the history of Spanish football. It is in stark contrast to Ceuta, who have made it to the Last 16 for the first time in their 66-year-old history. Should they pull off the improbable against Barcelona, it is likely to be one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history. The Catalan outfit eliminated another third-tier side, Intercity Sant Joan d’ Alacant in the previous round. The game ended 4-3 for Barcelona after extra time, a tad closer than one would have expected. It is fair to say that they will approach the tie against Ceuta all the more prepared.
Ceuta will be well served to go out and enjoy their game. After all, what better way to make themselves known than to stun the mighty Cules, even if they might take to the field sans their best players? After all, knockout football is the great leveller. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.