First and second legs of Kings Cup then Primera Liga face-off
MADRID: Barcelona began 2010 with a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Villarreal on Saturday and have no respite as they prepare to face Sevilla three times in 12 days.
Holders Barcelona turn their attention to the Kings Cup today when they host Sevilla at Nou Camp in the first leg of the last 16 tie.
Pep Guardiola watched on as his side dropped their first home points of the season with the Villarreal draw but Real Madrid failed to capitalise with a 0-0 draw at Osasuna to stay two points behind the champions.
“This team have a lot of self belief – this will make us stronger,” said Guardiola.
“It was all very tight and neither team dominated the game. There were periods when we were the better team and times when Villarreal were. Both of us had chances, but I think a draw was a fair result.
“The important thing now is to fine tune a few things and get ready for Tuesday’s game.”
With Real Madrid already eliminated, cup holders Barca have been handed the toughest draw possible in Sevilla although the latter will be low on confidence after losing 2-1 at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
“It is a nice tie and it is something that you can’t control in any case,” said Guardiola. “It will be a good match here at Nou Camp as well as in Seville.”
The two sides will certainly be seeing a lot of each other with the first leg of the cup today before the return leg on January 13 in Seville and the two sides also face off in the league at Nou Camp four days later making it three meetings in 12 days.
It is a tall order for Barcelona who only recently jetted to Abu Dhabi for the World Club Championship which they went on to win.
“It is a difficult month for us probably the most complicated month of the year,” said Barca forward Thierry Henry.
“We’ll see what happens. We know we have to play in the cup, Champions League and league. We have to accept it and put the effort in.”
Barcelona rested Lionel Messi for the Villarreal draw so it will be interesting to see if the Argentine returns today while Andres Iniesta may be ready to start after coming off the bench on Saturday.
Sevilla were victims of a stoppage time goal as they lost 2-1 at Atletico and have personnel problems with defender Sebastien Squillaci and midfielder Adriano Correia both picking up ankle injuries at the Vicente Calderon.
Didier Zokora, Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, Federico Fazio, Lautaro Acosta, Javi Varas and Tom de Mul are also unavailable as is Sergio Sanchez who could be out for some time due to a heart condition.
“Everything is negative at the moment but the best way to lift ourselves is at Nou Camp against Barcelona,” said Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop.
Sevilla last won the Kings Cup in 2007 while Barca have won the trophy a record 25 times having beaten Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in last season’s final. — AFP