Barcelona will take on CF Intercity on Wednesday evening in their Copa del Rey debut, but Xavi Hernandez has confirmed that they have one eye on their clash against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
Robert Lewandowski and Pedri have been left out of the squad for their trip to Alicante. Lewandowski has so far escaped suspension for his red card and his absence is a sign that Xavi Hernandez believes he will be available at the Civitas Metropolitano.
He confirmed as much to the press in his pre-match press conference.
“Yes, I am confident that he can play against Atletico Madrid. For that reason and because he has a lot of baggage. He has played a lot of minutes and we thought this could be a good game for him to rest. Then come very important games. We want him to be there and we believe he will be there. Rest for him and for Pedri.”
🚨 The squad for Barça vs Intercity in the Copa del Rey! pic.twitter.com/yxq7uZMs9s
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 3, 2023
After confirming that Gavi was fully fit after a knock against Espanyol, Alfredo Martinez asked how both Xavi and Lewandowski are dealing with the uncertainty that the suspension could fall at any moment.
“It is an uncertainty for the player and also for us not knowing when it will be resolved. I have told him not to think about the sanction. It is true that we prepared that game [Espanyol] without him and then he was available. Let’s see how it is resolved. This is not easy or pleasant for us or for our rivals.”
Barcelona will no doubt will come under heavy criticism for what many will see as them skirting the rules, but Xavi defended their actions.
“We have not done anything but follow the instructions of a judge. We have done what we had to do. Nothing more.”
Regardless of whose fault it is, plenty will feel that the Blaugrana have gained an unfair advantage by having Lewandowski available against Atletico, one of the strongest teams in the division, when his suspension might fall against perceived weaker sides.