MADRID: Holders Barcelona could be missing two thirds of their prolific attacking trio for Wednesday’s King’s Cup quarter-final, first leg at Athletic Bilbao, when they continue their bid for a fourth triumph in eight years.
Lionel Messi had to come off at halftime in Sunday’s 6-0 demolition of the Basque club in La Liga and while tests on Monday ruled out a hamstring strain the Argentina captain remains a doubt for the clash at the San Mames.
Luis Suarez may also be absent after the Uruguay striker was handed a two-match ban for allegedly provoking a fracas in the tunnel following the first leg of Barca’s last 16 tie against Espanyol this month.
Suarez served one half of the ban in the return game, when Barca progressed 6-1 on aggregate, and the club are waiting to hear if Spain’s Disciplinary Committee for Sports (TAD) will suspend the sanction pending a final decision on an appeal.
“It depends what happens behind closed doors whether I’ll be able to play in the Cup but what I do have is a very clear conscience,” Suarez, who has denied causing the bust-up, told reporters after his hat-trick against Bilbao on Sunday.
After Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was sent off for felling Suarez in the fourth minute and conceding a penalty, Messi opened the scoring from the spot and Brazil international Neymar, the remaining third of Barca’s South American forward trident, and Ivan Rakitic also struck.
Last week’s draw for the last eight pitted Barca, the record winners, against a Bilbao side whose 23 Cup victories, their most recent coming in 1984 against Barca, are only bettered by the Catalan club’s 27.
Barca have beaten Bilbao in the final three times since 2009, including a 3-1 success last season.
They lost 5-1 to the Basques in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup in August, the only trophy of six available in 2015 that they failed to win.
Atletico Madrid, the 2013 winners, play their first leg at Celta Vigo on Wednesday, while Gary Neville’s Valencia host Las Palmas on Thursday.
Second-division Mirandes, the only non-La Liga side left in the competition, play at Europa League holders and 2010 Spanish Cup winners Sevilla on Thursday.
The quarter-final, second legs are next week, while the semi-finals will be played over two legs at the start of February and the final on May 21 at a yet-to-be-determined venue.