Today is not an ordinary day. Today is 22 January 2020, a date that will forever be marked in red in the history of sport in Ibiza.
Today, for the first time ever, the world famous FC Barcelona pay a visit to the White Isle. They have never played here before, not even in a friendly match yet today they will step out to the artificial grass of Can Misses Stadium to face UD Ibiza in the last 32 of the Spains biggest cup competition, the Copa del Rey, the Cup of Kings. Today, without a doubt, is a very special day.
6,500 spectators will be there in the stadium adorned for the occasion with greater lighting and extra stands to accommodate a couple of thousand more lucky fans who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to be there. The vast majority of those people queued for hours to get a ticket, some for almost 24 hours, incredible but true.
Also incredible was that in just four hours all the general public tickets were sold out with many fans unable to acquire a ticket despite having been part of the queue that stretched back for more than 300 metres
The wait and expense was surely worth it as they will see the most important game in the history of Ibiza. Unfortunately Leo Messi won’t be there having been rested but nearly all of the other football heavyweights will be present as only Busquets and Piqué are left at home.
New Barça coach Quique Setien, who only arrived at the club last week, replacing the sacked Ernesto Valverde, obviously doesn’t want any surprises so he has chosen to bring a very strong side to try to avoid a catastrophe.
The starting XI for Barça will include up to 7 of the usual first team with either Lenglet or Umtiti at the back, probably the former, who was rested in the last game against Granada, although they could both play given the other choice is the inexperienced Chumi.
The midfield of Barça would strike fear into any team with Rakitic, Vidal, De Jong, Arthur, the emerging Riqui Puig and Sergi Roberto available for selection.
In attack the 100 million man Antoine Griezmann looks like he will start in the absence of Messi and injures to Luis Suárez and Dembelé. Carles Pérez and Ansu Fati, the youngest scorer in history in the Champions League may also get the nod while Abel Ruiz will wait for his opportunity from the bench.
It remains to be seen if Setién starts with the usual 4-3-3 or if he tests his 3-5-2 with two lanes in the midfield.
UD Ibiza coach (and ex Barça player) Pablo Alfaro is expected to start with his strongest line up on the big night, maybe with some rotation, in a match that will gather headlines around the world.
Injury to Morillas diminishes the left wing options and with Rubén González also doubtful it could force the coach to select Grima and Kike López out wide.
The experience of Javi Lara, who began as a substitute in the last match versus Rayo Majadahonda, will be the pillar on which UD will rely. Javi Pérez should also start in midfield where the big question is whether Toni Arranz or Miguel Núñez will get the other spot.
Top scorer Rodado will start up top with the option of Cirio and Caballé while Mendoza and Raí will probably await their opportunity to provide impact from the bench.
UD Ibiza will go in search of not only dreamland but also a 10th straight game without loss in the League and Cup.
A football party is about to be served and everyone on the island and many around the world are looking forward to kick off with nervous excitement.
Football really is the Beautiful Game!
22 January 2020
UD Ibiza v FC Barcelona
Copa del Rey – Last 32
K.O 19.00 at Can Misses Stadium
Live on DAZN
Adapted from article by Tomi Sanchez in Diario de Ibiza 22/1/2020