Barcelona a step away from Copa del Rey final
Villareal (Spain), March 3 (IANS) Luis Suarez and Javier Mascherano will need to be careful if they are selected by coach Luis Enrique for Barcelona's King's Cup semi-final return leg away to Villarreal on Wednesday evening.
The Uruguayan striker and Argentinean defender are both one booking away from suspension and should they see a yellow card at the El Madrigal Stadium, they would miss out on the final if Barcelona qualify, reports Xinhua.
Barcelona will be favourites to qualify for their third final in four years after winning the first leg 3-1, a win which would have been even clearer had Neymar not missed a penalty in the closing minutes.
Enrique rested some players such as Sergio Busquets during Barcelona's win in Granada on Saturday and Busquets will be back in the side along with Gerard Pique, who missed out at the weekend through suspension.
Looking for their first ever final appearance, Villarreal will also be at full strength after coach Marcelino Garcia rested players away to Real Madrid on Sunday night and his side will have gained enormous confidence after forcing a 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu in a game where they were the better side for long periods.
The second semi-final sees Espanyol go into the game at home to Athletic Club Bilbao as slight favourites following a 1-1 draw in Bilbao a fortnight ago. With better finishing, Espanyol could have killed the tie in the first leg as their forwards were guilty of several bad misses in the closing minutes in Sam Mames.
Should Espanyol and Barcelona qualify, it would set up the prospect of a Barcelona derby for the final but Athletic will travel knowing that if they can score a goal then the tie is in the balance once again.
Players such as Aymeric Laporte, Aritz Aduriz and Markel Susaeta all rested for Athletic's 1-0 win away to Eibar on Sunday which lifted them clear of relegation zone and the Basques are aiming to reach their third Cup final in six years.