MADRID (Reuters) - Luis Enrique’s Barcelona will get to test their King’s Cup final opponents ahead of time on Saturday when they travel to fellow finalists Alaves in La Liga - but they may have sore legs after playing five games in the last 13 days.
Liga leaders Real Madrid, who have a one-point lead in the table and two games in hand, play at Osasuna in the Saturday night game, well rested after two weeks with no fixtures.
Barca coach Enrique can take heart from the fact that his team is the one still in with a chance of the treble after the last grueling two weeks, however.
His team have shown that they can grind out results when necessary, such as in Tuesday’s 1-1 second-leg draw with Atletico that put them in the King’s Cup final for the fourth straight year thanks to a 3-2 win on aggregate.
Former Barca player Enrique hailed the team’s resilience.
“It would be good to know if there has been another team in Europe that has played as many intense games in January and in such a short span - even less than 72 hours - as we have,” he told reporters after reaching his eighth final in all competitions since taking the helm of Barca in 2014.
“It’s marvelous. We are a winning club with players that have a lot of ambition,” he said.
While Barca remain in the hunt in the league, the King’s Cup and the Champions League, Real Madrid were eliminated by Celta Vigo in the King’s Cup quarterfinals.
Barcelona will have Neymar back from suspension to face the Alaves side that stunned them 2-1 at the Camp Nou in La Liga earlier this season.
Alaves, who beat Celta Vigo to reach the King’s Cup final for the first time in the club’s 96-year history, will be hoping for a repeat of their big upset win in Barcelona.
Real’s opponents, bottom side Osasuna, have but one win in 21 games, and are unlikely to pose a serious threat to a Real side that has recovered six players since their 3-0 triumph over Real Sociedad on Jan. 29.
Toni Kroos, through suspension, and injured Gareth Bale are the only players unavailable.
Third-place Sevilla play at Las Palmas while fourth-place Atletico host Celta.
Reporting by Adriana Garcia; Editing by Hugh Lawson