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Barcelona have been drawn to face La Liga rivals Athletic Club in the last 16 of the 2021-22 Copa del Rey in what is a repeat of last season’s final which the Catalans won 4-0.
The Catalan giants booked their place in the Round of 16 by beating third-tier side Linares Deportivo 2-1. Xavi’s men had to come from behind to secure the win, with Ferran Jutgla and Ousmane Dembele on target in the second half.
Meanwhile, Athletic made it through with a victory over Atletico Mancha thanks to two goals from Nico Williams. The game is scheduled to take place on 18-19 January at San Mames. The match will be a one-off encounter with extra-time and penalties available if the scores are tied after 90 minutes.
Here’s a look at the last 16 draw in full.
Atlético Baleares vs Valencia
Girona vs Rayo Vallecano
Sporting Gijón vs Cádiz
Elche vs Real Madrid
Real Sociedad vs Atlético Madrid
Real Betis vs Sevilla
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona
Mallorca vs Espanyol
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Xavi Taking Copa del Rey Seriously
The Copa del Rey may not be Barcelona’s top priority this season, but Xavi told reporters before his team’s win over Linares that his team are going all out to retain the trophy they won last year.
“I think we view this competition the same as the others. We will go for the win and try to win the cup, regardless of our position in the league,” he said. “Absolutely, the cup remains an objective for us. We want to end up becoming champions.”
Xavi knows all about winning the Copa del Rey as a player of course. The former midfielder lifted the cup three times during his trophy-laden playing career with the Catalan giants.
Linares Boss Praises Xavi
The Barcelona boss will now be hoping he can go on and win the Copa del Rey as Barcelona manager too. Xavi passed his first test with a win against Linares and came in for praise from his opposite number, Alberto Gonzalez, after the match, as reported by AS.
“He is a spectacular guy, a phenomenon, super respectful,” he said. “He has given us congratulations for our work. He has told me that he did not expect to have to throw everything. I am proud that someone like that has congratulated us.”
Linares made Barca work hard for their win. A first-half goal headed goal from Hugo Diaz shocked the visitors and sparked wild celebrations from the third-tier side.
However, Xavi threw on experienced stars such as Gerard Pique, Frenkie de Jong, and Dembele at half-time, and Barcelona’s quality showed in the second half as they came back to win and keep their cup hopes alive.