A year after edging past lower-league opposition in added time, Barcelona return to the Copa del Rey round of 32 to meet huge underdogs again on Sunday.
UD Barbastro are based in north-east Spain and have spent the past 16 seasons in the fourth and fifth tiers of the domestic pyramid.
Barca needed Ansu Fati’s 103rd-minute winner to see Barca past third-tier Intercity at this stage last season, going on to reach the semifinals before suffering a decisive 4-0 home defeat to Real Madrid in the second leg.
The Sporting News takes a look at the story of Barbastro as the club prepares for the most high-profile match in its history.
Who are UD Barbastro?
Based in the small city from which the club takes its name, Barbastro play in the Segunda Federacion, which is also known as Segunda B and is the fourth tier of the Spanish football pyramid.
They were promoted in second place in Group 17 of the fifth tier in 2022/23 and currently play in Group 2 of the fourth level, in which teams are required to have a minimum of 10 players under full-time contracts.
As the names suggest, the Primera Federacion is the tier immediately above Segunda Federacion, with the Segunda Division (or La Liga 2) the next division up before La Liga itself, which Madrid have won 35 times.
Barbastro’s finishing position last season, when they won 15 and lost seven of their 30 league matches, earned them qualification for the Copa del Rey.
Ninth out of 18 teams in their division, Barbastro enter their encounter with Barcelona on a fine run of five matches unbeaten, winning four of those games and keeping clean sheets in all of them. Nine of their past 11 opponents have failed to score against them.
— Ivan Biarge (@ibiarge1) December 16, 2023
Barbastro club history
The first version of the club was Sporting Club Barbastro, a multi-sports society established in 1913 by “several young people with sporting interests”, according to La Futbolteca.
Barbastro was known as Mercantile Sports Club from 1947 to 1949 and the Barbastro Sports Union of Education and Rest from 1949 until 1954, when it became the more succinctly titled Barbastro Sports Union.
The union was founded on October 4, 1947 and Barbastro have spent almost all of their time since then trying to succeed in the fourth tier.
They won promotion in 1988/89 but were immediately relegated and finished as champions in 2004/05, also playing fifth-tier football in their surrounding Aragonese region between 2015/16 and 2018/19.
The club crest contains their primary colours of red and white, the face of a bearded figure and a sword crossed with a piece of wood.
“For the town of Barbastro, Barcelona coming here is historic,” one club member this week told AS, which reported fans queueing outside the Barbastro’s Paseo del Coso headquarters in the hope of securing a ticket for the sold-out game. “We have already won the lottery.”
Barcelona are said to have been the popular choice of opponent among supporters before the draw was made, with Barbastro knowing they would be paired with one of the teams competing in the Spanish Super Cup.
Osasuna, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were the other La Liga teams they could have drawn as part of a procedure ensuring the lowest-ranked sides still in the Copa del Rey would meet one of those considerably larger clubs.
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The match against Barcelona will take place at the Municipal de Deportes, a stadium in the city with a capacity of 5,000 which will be increased to 6,000 for the occasion with supplementary seating.
The hosts have also reportedly had to take steps to ensure that the required Spanish FA protocols relating to improved illumination and media facilities are met, with season ticket sign-up numbers said to have increased from 440 to 1,244 because of an offer including a ticket for the match for 100 euros (£86/$109).
“People from outside Barbastro have become members,” club director Guillermo told AS, adding that a temporary press officer has been hired to handle the volume of media requests.
“On this pitch, Barca will suffer because we are like a rocket. The team are playing really well right now. This area can get very foggy in the winter and this could help us.”
🏟️ | EL MUNICIPAL SE ENGALANA
Así luce el Municipal de los Deportes de Barbastro a poco más de 48h de una cita histórica.
— U.D. Barbastro (@UD_Barbastro) January 5, 2024
Could Barbastro beat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey?
Barbastro have already knocked a top-flight team out of this season’s competition, beating La Liga’s bottom side, Almeria, 1-0 at home in the previous round.
The result was perhaps not a huge surprise given Almeria’s failure to win any of their 19 league games so far this season, but there were still warning signs for Barca.
Barbastro won despite having only 26% of possession and a passing accuracy of just 43% compared to 79% for Almeria.
Barca ended a three-game winless run with victories either side of the turn of the year, although neither were entirely convincing.
Almeria twice pegged them back before Sergi Roberto scored the winner seven minutes from time. They then needed a 93rd-minute Ilkay Gundogan penalty to win 2-1 on Thursday at Las Palmas, who held the lead from Munir El Haddadi’s 12th-minute opener until Ferran Torres’ equaliser 10 minutes into the second half.
What time is Barbastro vs Barcelona?
Barbastro vs Barcelona kicks off at 9 p.m. in Spain on Sunday, January 7, 2024. Here’s how that translates across different territories:
|7 a.m. (January 8)
|1:30 a.m. (January 8)
How to watch Barcelona play Barbastro
Here’s how to watch Barcelona’s visit to Barbastro in the Copa del Rey Round of 32.