Barcelona travel to the Mestalla Stadium to face Valencia in the Spanish La Liga on Saturday afternoon, in a game that could have big ramifications in the title race.
The Catalans giants have been vulnerable early this season and face an in-form Valencia outfit who boast a good record at home to the defending champions. Could Los Che put a dent in Barcelona’s fledgling title pursuit?
Valencia resurgent after a slow start
Valencia are in fine form in recent weeks after their toils earlier on in the campaign. Los Che have changed manager and boast three wins from their last four in La Liga, and will be full of confidence given Barcelona’s inconsistency this season. Barcelona haven’t gone more than two games without dropping points in the division in 2016/17, and were beaten 4-3 in their last away game.
Valencia have the luxury of no distractions from other competitions ahead of their meeting with Barcelona either, having six days between their last game compared to the three Barcelona had. New coach Cesare Prandelli is considered to have a more open, possession-based style, and going at the Catalans might be the best option considering how well it worked for Celta.
Sides often sit deep and try to limit space in their defensive third for Barcelona to play in, but Valencia might be more open and look to cut out the supply from source by pressing higher up the pitch. An aggressive approach could be effective, and Los Che’s impressive recent run against Barca should also be telling.
Head-to-head record gives Valencia hope
Valencia have a good record against Barcelona, having taking four points off the defending champions in the league last season, in addition to having taken points off Barcelona in three of their last five home games. Valencia have beaten the Catalans at the Nou Camp in two of the last three seasons too, so they have reason to be confident even if the two sides are separated by 10 places and seven points so far.
Valencia and Barcelona played out a stalemate in this fixture last season, and the hosts have only lost four times at the Mestalla to the La Liga giants in the last decade and more. Los Che can clearly hold their own in this fixture, and have picked up more points in recent weeks in the league compared to their opponents. Valencia are 5/1 to win against Barcelona this afternoon.
Can they pull off a giant-killing?