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Soccer-Barca rest key players for Cup clash, Adriano returns

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MADRID, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Holders Barcelona will rest midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta, centre back Gerard Pique and forward Pedro for Thursday's King's Cup last-16 second leg at home to second-division Cordoba, the club said on Wednesday.

Barca have a 2-0 lead from last month's first leg and despite the absence of the Spain quartet should have little trouble securing a last-eight meeting with Malaga, who eliminated third-tier Eibar on Tuesday.

Barca fullback Adriano, who picked up a minor muscle injury at the end of December and missed Sunday's 4-0 La Liga win at home to Espanyol, returned to training on Wednesday and had been included in the squad, the club said in a statement on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).

Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who collected a record fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or award on Monday, was also available, they added. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Clare Fallon)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130109/soccer-barca-rest-key-players-cup-clash-adriano-returns