Barca fire blanks in Copa del Rey
Barcelona were held to a scoreless draw by third-tier Villanovense on Wednesday in a disappointing start to the Copa del Rey for the defending champion.
Barca coach Luis Enrique rested regular starters and instead played reserves. Messi is still nursing his injury, and hopes to feature in the upcoming El Clasico against Real Madrid.
The return cup match is Dec. 2 at Camp Nou.
Barcelona struggled to create many opportunities and it was Villanovense which came closest to opening the score when defender Javi Sanchez struck the crossbar with a close-range shot off a corner in the 42nd minute.
Barcelona had good chances near the end but was not able to capitalize on them.
The game was played at the tiny Romero Cuerda Stadium, which usually hosts 3,000 people but held a crowd of nearly 10,000 on Wednesday with the addition of temporary structures.