Following a disappointing defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final, Barcelona are coming into the Copa del Rey Round of 16 on the back of two consecutive wins. A 2-0 win against Cornella in the CDR Round of 32, and a 2-0 win against Elche in the La Liga must have helped Barcelona go into the Rayo Vallecano with more morale than the previous round.
Ahead of the game, Ronald Koeman discussed several topics of concerns with the media as part of his pre-game press conference, talking about Messi’s return, Roberto’s recovery, among other things.
On Rayo Vallecano: “We play against a complicated team in a complicated stadium. We have to be very focused during the game.”
On what to expect from the game tomorrow: “It is an important moment of the season, we are doing well away from home. We will put up a strong line-up tomorrow. We know that the Cup is the shortest way to win something.”
On Sergi Roberto’s recovery: “Roberto trained twice with us, and still needs more time to come back. Friday, we have a training session and will see whether he is ready.”
On if both Madrid outfits exclusion from the cup helps them: “I don’t think it’s easier for us because Atletico and Real are out of the competition [the Copa del Rey], there are other strong teams.”
On the competition in the league: “We will compete in every tournament. It’s true that Atletico has an advantage in the lead, and it’s complicated because they are more comfortable after they are out of the cup now. But we will not give up.”
On his strategy for tomorrow’s game: “We will do everything possible and impossible. I want to see the winning mentality tomorrow.”
On COVID’19’s impact on Barça: “Barça are one of the big teams that have suffered the most from COVID-19, for the attendance and for tourism.”
On Messi’s return after his ban: “Leo really is eager to play. He is a winner and wants to be in all the games. We have to wait until tomorrow to find out if he will play or not.”
On Araujo’s involvement: “Resting Araújo? If there is a moment that we think he has to rest, he will rest. Otherwise, he will play.”