By RYAN TOLMICH
Despite all of the off-the-field strife that has plagued the club in recent weeks, Barcelona takes the field Thursday against an opponent that is about to become very familiar.
The Camp Nou hosts Elche (4 p.m., Bein Sports) for Copa del Rey action in the first of three clashes between the two sides in January. Fresh off a demoralizing 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad, Barca enter the opening leg featuring a lineup of regulars, including the previously benched Lionel Messi, as well as fellow superstars Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Absent from Thursday’s lineup will be Xavi, who was dropped at the last minute due to injury and replaced by Andres Iniesta. In addition, Jeremy Mathieu will not feature due to an achilles injury.
Meanwhile, Elche enter Thursday as one of La Liga’s worst sides, having won just two league games all season. The club also already features a loss to Thursday’s opposition on its record, having been beaten 3-0 by Barca in August.
If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the game.