Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez Replaced by Barcelona Youth for Valencia Match

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Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez Replaced by Barcelona Youth for Valencia Match
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Barcelona will field a heavily revised squad in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia, as manager Luis Enrique has opted to rest the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to give a handful of youngsters the chance to shine.

The Catalans won the first leg 7-0 and are widely expected to cruise to the final, allowing Enrique to rest some of his star players. Messi was always expected to sit out the match after he reportedly underwent kidney surgery, but he'll be joined by a bunch of veterans on the sidelines, per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan.

LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Neymar, Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Claudio Bravo will all be rested against Valencia, and in their place, a number of Barcelona B and even one Juvenil A star could see the pitch.

Enrique has called up a total of six “kids,” as Sport's Esther Blasco called them, including Sergi Samper. The midfielder has been touted as a possible replacement for Busquets for some time, and a strong showing against Valencia could result in a bigger role for the promising talent. 

As you can see in the highlights provided below, Samper has the look of a future superstar:

He could be joined in midfield by Gerard Gumbau, another player who has been a part of Barcelona's youth setup for a long time and who has already seen action in a number of first-team matches.

Carles Alena is the youngest member of the group at just 18 years old, but his first half of the season with Juvenil A was impressive, highlighted by this spectacular goal in the UEFA Youth League against AS Roma:

Wilfrid Kaptoum already showed what he can do in the Copa del Rey earlier this season, starting against CF Villanovense, and Juan Camara's only appearance for the senior team came in the UEFA Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen.

Forward Dani Romera has yet to make his first-team debut, and with Neymar, Messi and Suarez all absent, he has a good chance of seeing the pitch against Valencia.

Barcelona's official Twitter account shared this short video of the six youngsters together:

It's important to note the Spanish football federation only allows four players who aren't part of the regular first team on the pitch at the same time, so it's highly unlikely all six will feature against Valencia, per Blasco.

In fact, Enrique will have to be very careful making sure he doesn't violate said rule, or risk disqualification.

Valencia manager Gary Neville has already confirmed he will prioritise Saturday's La Liga match against Espanyol, so Barca should feel safe handing some of the youngsters extended minutes, knowing he has a seven-goal lead to work with.

Expect squad players like Marc Bartra, Sandro Ramirez and Douglas to carry the team on Wednesday, while the youngsters wait for their chance.

 

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