Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 3/5
Valencia held their own in the first leg at Camp Nou, but eventually had to settle for a 1-0 defeat, and now need to try and overturn said deficit in the return leg. Having made an important step towards the final, the Catalans will be looking to finish the job at Mestalla.
Valencia have been without a doubt the number one surprise package of the current La Liga campaign, spending the first part of the season in second position, although they recently began to struggle. Los Che have now lost three straight league fixtures, after losing just three of first 19 games, and now their top 4 berth is under threat. With Real Madrid and Sevilla breathing down their necks, Valencia will be under intense pressure in the coming weeks, but now it’s time to focus on the Copa del Rey campaign.
Los Che did well to reach the semi-finals by defeating Real Zaragoza, Las Palmas and Deportivo Alaves, but were unfortunate to be pitted against mighty Barcelona. Even so, Valencia produced a decent performance in the first leg, but eventually conceded a goal that put the Catalans in the driving seat. The problem is that los Che have now lost five straight matches in all competitions, and they could struggle to play to their potential given the low confidence at the moment.
The hosts have received a major boost as Goncalo Guedes appears to have recovered from a muscle problem, but Andreas Pereira and Jeison Murillo are out injured.
This season has been going really well for Barcelona, probably even better than anyone in the club could have predicted. The Catalans boast a nine-point cushion at the La Liga summit in spite of weekend’s draw with Espanyol, while they are on the verge of securing their place in the Copa del Rey final. With January recruit Philippe Coutinho slowly being integrated into the side, Ernesto Valverde has plenty of reason for optimism, but at the same time needs to ensure the performances remain at a very high level.
Barcelona did not impress in the local derby against Espanyol as they clearly had one eye on the Valencia game, but they managed to avoid what would have been a rare defeat thanks to late goal from Gerard Pique. The experienced defender is suspended for the clash at Mestalla after attempting to silence Espanyol fans, and his absence creates serious problems at the back, considering that Thomas Vermaelen is not fully fit and Yerry Mina has yet to be handed his debut.
One of Sergio Busquets or Lucas Digne could deputise for Gerard Pique, while Leo Messi, Ivan Rakitic and Jordi Alba will be recalled.
Key Factors to Consider
- Valencia lost last five fixtures on all fronts
- Barcelona won 11 of last 14 matches (D2 L1)
- Valencia winless in last 12 home games vs Barcelona (D8 L4)
- Both teams scored in last 5 meetings prior to the clash at Camp Nou last Thursday
- The Catalans won four of last five games
Valencia have been on a major downtrend of late, losing last five matches in all competitions, and we don’t think they can match full-strength Barcelona at Mestalla. Therefore, we are backing the Catalans to secure the progress to the final with another triumph over los Che.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 3/5
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