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No let-up as Barca target cup final, says Valverde

Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insists the Copa del Rey holders won’t overlook a Valencia side weakened by injuries ahead of Thursday’s semi-final first leg at the Camp Nou.

“When you get to the semi-final you have to make the most of your luck,” Valverde told a news conference on Wednesday. “A semi-final, it’s the chance to play a final and we must give everything to get there.

“Valencia will do the same thing. Reaching a final doesn’t happen every day,” added Valverde, whose side have already beaten Celta Vigo and local rivals Espanyol in the cup this month.

Barcelona, the record 29-time champions, are attempting to become the first team to lift the cup four years in a row since Athletic Bilbao in the 1930s.  

They will be strong favourites to reach a fifth successive final, with Valencia missing a trio of key players — Goncalo Guedes, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Ezequiel Garay — through injury.

“They’re feeling the effects of lots of matches this January,” said Valverde, who spent six months in charge of Valencia between 2012 and 2013.

Barcelona thrashed Valencia 8-1 on aggregate — following a 7-0 win in the first leg — at the same stage of the competition two years ago, but Valverde acknowledged a repeat scoreline is unlikely.

“It won’t be like the last time, a 7-0 is not normal for a first game. Valencia were in a delicate position then, but now they have a team that is good enough to win any match.” 

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