Lionel Messi starts as Barcelona go big against Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey

Barcelona travel to Vallecas to take on Segunda Rayo Vallecano in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey this evening in a tie that’s taken on a whole new significance to what it normally would.

Now that they’ve lost the Supercopa de Espana to Athletic Bilbao in an action-packed final, the Copa represents Barcelona’s best chance for silverware this season.

They won nothing last year, are off the pace in La Liga and unconvincing in the Champions League. If Ronald Koeman wants to keep his job beyond this campaign, he’ll need to have something to show for it.

The Blaugrana entered the Copa in the previous round due to their Supercopa commitments, beating ten-man and third-tier UE Cornella in the last 32 2-0 after extra-time.

Rayo, by comparison, beat Teruel 3-2 in the first round, Haro 3-1 in the second and Primera side Elche 2-0 in the last 32.

Lionel Messi returned to the starting lineup for Barcelona after serving the two-game suspension he earned for his red card in the Supercopa final.

Tags Barcelona Copa del Rey La Liga Lionel Messi Rayo Vallecano Segunda

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