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La Liga preview: Valencia aim to stop Messi, Barcelona

Table-toppers Barcelona will travel to Valencia in this weekend’s La Liga action while Real Madrid are also on the road at Granada.

A 5-1 thumping of Osasuna on Sunday saw Barca return to winning ways in the league after their shock 3-2 loss at Real Sociedad.

Argentine forward Lionel Messi, who tops the La Liga scoring charts with 33 goals this season, struck four times in that victory and looks in ominous form ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Mestalla.

After making a sloppy start to the season, Valencia have resurrected their season with four wins from their past five La Liga fixtures, with Roberto Soldado and Jonas scoring three goals each in that spell.

Soldado missed the club’s 3-2 away win at Deportivo La Coruna last week with a thigh injury but Valencia are hopeful that the striker will return for their home clash against the Catalan giants.

The two sides have already met once this season, with Barcelona emerging victorious 1-0 thanks to a 23rd-minute goal from Brazilian defender Adriano Correia.

Valencia will have to defy recent history if they want to cause an upset, with the club unable to beat Barca in their past 11 meetings.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid are nine points behind Barcelona and will hope to make up ground with a home victory against Real Betis on Sunday.

Colombian forward Radamel Falcao has netted 18 league goals this season and has played a big role in the club’s success.

Falcao is likely to miss the match with a hamstring injury though and with no-one else in Atletico’s squad having scored more than four goals in the league, Real Betis will fancy their chances of claiming an upset win.

They sit fifth on the table but have failed to win any of their past four matches in all competitions.

Real Madrid remain a long way off the pace, trailing Barcelona by 15 points in third position on the table.

They are in good form, though, and will be expected to make light work of the lowly Granada, who sit just one place above the relegation zone.

Other matches of note see the fourth-placed Malaga host Real Zaragoza, also on Sunday, while the Friday night match pits Real Valladolid against Athletic Bilbao.

Strugglers Osasuna and Celta de Vigo will clash while the bottom-placed Deportivo La Coruna travel to the out-of-form Getafe.

Espanyol battle Levante, Sevilla take on Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad meet Mallorca in other fixtures across the weekend.

Thu 31 Jan, 2013
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