Valencia vs Barcelona Preview
This weekend’s action in La Liga’s Primera Division concludes on Sunday night when Valencia play hosts to Barcelona at the Estadio de Mestalla in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table encounter.
Valencia sit in fourth place in the table , but the early-season promise of five wins and two draws in their opening seven games was diluted a little by their disappointing defeats at Deportivo La Coruna a month ago. The boat was steadied with two further wins, but then a home draw with Athletic Club Bilbao just before the international break was followed last weekend by an inexplicably poor showing that saw them go down 2-1 at struggling Levante, a sequence of disappointing results that has effectively cost them at least a share of top spot with Real Madrid. With second-placed Barcelona four points ahead, the pressure is on Nuno Espirito Santo and his players to get a positive result from this game, as defeat would put an almost insurmountable gap between the two sides, especially with Sevilla and Malaga closing in behind them to take up the chase should they falter.
Barcelona’s games have been pretty much the Lionel Messi show over the last week, as he has broken both the all-time La Liga scoring record and the all-time Champions League scoring record in the space of three days. Never one to do things in half measures, Messi chose to celebrate both feats with back-to-back hat-tricks, firstly in the 5-1 demolition of Sevilla on Saturday, and then again on Tuesday night as Barca brushed aside APOEL 4-0 in Nicosia. Those exploits took Messi’s tally to eight goals in the last four games, but Valencia know that he just one of their problems with Neymar and Luis Suarez making up a formidable triumvirate in the Barca front line. Coach Luis Enrique will be particularly pleased to have seen Suarez break his goalscoring duck at the sixth time of asking when he opened the scoring in Cyprus, and will hope that that signals the start of a rich vein of form to complement Neymar’s eleven goals in eleven games, and Messi’s ten in twelve. It should not be overlooked either that the Barca defence has still only conceded six goals in twelve games, and three of those came in the Clasico defeat at the Bernabau. Those consecutive defeats to Real Madrid and Celta Vigo seem to have been put to bed now, and this promises to be a game of thrilling goalmouth action from two of the most entertaining teams in the league.