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Football’s best away day? Barca head to Ibiza in Spanish Cup


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Football’s best away day? Barca head to Ibiza in Spanish Cup

UD Ibiza’s Estadi Municipal de Can Misses is in on the outskirts of Ibiza citySandy beaches, sunsets and of course a wild party scene.Ibiza is better known for superstar DJs and nightclubs than football, but on Wednesday night that could all change – at least for one night.Barcelona are in town to face UD Ibiza…

Football’s best away day? Barca head to Ibiza in Spanish Cup

Ibiza town

UD Ibiza’s Estadi Municipal de Can Misses is in on the outskirts of Ibiza city

Sandy beaches, sunsets and of course a wild party scene.

Ibiza is better known for superstar DJs and nightclubs than football, but on Wednesday night that could all change – at least for one night.

Barcelona are in town to face UD Ibiza in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey.

When the draw was made, many envious football fans had the same thought on social media – “best away game ever”.

The match will be held at the Estadi Municipal de Can Misses, which is increasing its capacity from 4,500 to a sell-out 6,445 especially for the game.

In true Ibiza style the club has booked one of the island’s top DJs, Manu Gonzalez, to “provide the pre-match and half-time beats” on the side of the pitch.

“When I was a kid the Ibiza football club was not that big – most people supported Barcelona,” the Ibiza native told BBC Sport. “Now all these years later I will be DJing on a pitch where Barcelona and Ibiza will be playing together in an official competition. It will be a very special thing for the island.”

His manager Danny Whittle, a Stoke expat living on the island, adds: “This is the biggest game in the history of Ibiza. There has never been a team like this play here.”

Meanwhile, in his pre-match news conference, UD Ibiza manager Pablo Alfaro declared: “This party is a party for the whole island and its people. Obviously Barcelona are favourites, but we will compete with them as we have the means to do so.”

This may be a party island, but they take their football seriously.

Manu Gonzalez (left) and Danny Whittle at UD Ibiza’s stadium

Since the club was formed in 2015, replacing UD Ibiza-Eivissa and backed financially by president Amadeo Salvo, they have won promotion twice in three seasons to sit third in their Segunda Division B group as they chase promotion to Spain’s second division.

Former Italy striker Marco Borriello has even turned out for the team and retains close links to the club in a non-playing role.

However, despite their achievements, the club have evidently been unable to shake off perceptions, with Salvo criticising a Spanish TV program for a “lack of respect” after it replaced the club’s badge with the unmistakable cherry logo of Pacha nightclub when discussing the upcoming match.

“We’re a serious club, we’re not a nightclub,” he responded.

Coached by ex-Barcelona and Sevilla defender Alfaro, the third-tier underdogs invited more than 500 children from the island’s football schools to witness their dramatic penalty shootout victory over second-tier Albacete in the previous round.

They could not have hoped for a greater reward.

“It is a gift that football has given us. Deserved because the merit belongs to everyone, to the players, to the club, and it is something that, above all, we have to enjoy – you have to enjoy it very, very much,” boss Alfaro said following the draw.

“We are going to give an image that Ibiza is alive in winter, not only in summer,” added Alfaro, who played alongside new Barcelona manager Quique Setien at Racing Santander from 1993-1996.

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Setien, in only his second game in charge, has rested star player Lionel Messi for the match, which is in a new one-game format rather than a two-legged tie, while Alfaro has his eyes on an upset.

“Barcelona already have their Liga and the ‘glamour’ of world football with the Champions League, but the Copa levels it out and there’s space to humble them here,” the 50-year-old told Marca.

“Man, we’ve got some weapons. We’re going to go out with humility and ambition. We’re going to give them energy, passion and football; this is our magic formula.

“Without limitations, we’re going to compete and I’m sure that we’ll bring a war. A football war.”

An Ibiza win on Wednesday might just trigger one almighty Mediterranean party, on an island that knows how to party like no other.

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