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Rediff.com  » Sports » Kings Cup: Barca dig deep with final in sight

Kings Cup: Barca dig deep with final in sight

February 06, 2012 13:24 IST

Injury-hit Barcelona will not be complaining if another 'lucky' black cat helps Lionel Messi find the net at the Nou Camp on Wednesday when they bid for a third King's Cup final appearance in four years.

The World and European champions host Valencia in a semi-final second leg match with Carles Puyol's header from the 1-1 draw at Mestalla last week giving them a slight edge in the tie.

Barca's anxious 2-1 home win over Real Sociedad in La Liga at the weekend ended a run of three consecutive draws, their worst run of results this season, and a rare barren spell for top scorer Messi.

It was only after a black cat streaked across their pitch on Saturday that Messi finally broke his run of bad luck in front of goal, which included having a penalty saved during the first leg of the semi-final.

The World Player of the Year has netted 37 times in all competitions so far, but his team have looked more and more reliant on his goals and playmaking as a lengthening injury list took its toll.

David Villa, Pedro, Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez have all been laid low, forcing coach Pep Guardiola to fall back on their famed youth academy of late, but the zip has been missing from the side's play.

A nasty gash to the knee of midfielder Sergio Busquets on the weekend makes the Spanish international a doubt for Wednesday as well.

"We'll see if, little by little, we can start getting players back," Guardiola said on Saturday, when he rested other key players such as Xavi, Gerard Pique and Eric Abidal.

"The players we have available are making a titanic effort, and they have a chance on Wednesday to secure a place in the final for later in the season, while we turn our focus on the other two competitions (La Liga and the Champions League).

Barca won the Cup in 2009, and lost in last season's final to their arch-rivals Real Madrid, who they trail in the league by seven points.

Valencia are a distant third in the standings and also going through a poor run of form.

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