What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Barcelona (4th; 13 points) vs Valencia (1st; 16 points)
When: Saturday 16th October, 2010, at 19:00 UK Time
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

A New Situation

For the first time in a long while, Barcelona enter a La Liga match not in pole position. Now, at the Camp Nou, they will have the chance to climb further up the ladder when they face leaders Valencia, in a match that rarely fails to impress to watching fans. However, Josep Guardiola’s team will have to be careful when dealing with Los Che, who have demonstrated that even without big names, they can still mount a challenge to those with bigger budgets.

Key to Barcelona’s hopes in this battle, and hoping to make a splash against his former club, is David Villa. Valencia benefitted from the Spain forward’s lethal touch for years, before finally selling him to Barcelona in the summer. Perhaps a chink of light for Los Che however, is that both Villa and Xavi Hernandez are both suffering from knocks which could dent their match sharpness. Should Villa fail to make it, then the spotlight could shine on the young Bojan Krkic, who is impressing more and more with every appearance.

First Real Test

Valencia have been league leaders for some time now, and this is a suitable time for them to justify their position as they prepare to face Barcelona, knowing that a win over their hosts at the Camp Nou would be confirmation for many that they are the real deal: “This will be a match between two great teams, and one in which Valencia can check the level that we are at currently. We hope to put on a good show. If we get the three points, many will believe that we can win the league.”, declared striker Alejandro Dominguez.

To grab the win Los Che crave, the 2004 league champions will have to do without a number of their key players, namely Ever Banega and Joaquin, two of their first-team pillars. The latter, particularly, was on a good run for his club of late, and while his void will probably be filled by young sensation Pablo Hernandez, Joaquin’s absence nonetheless will be greatly missed. Up front, Roberto Soldado will once again have the chance to continue his excellent form as David Villa’s replacement, but the hitman reminded fans that: "It is Barcelona-Valencia, not Villa-Soldado."


Recent form


Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Barcelona
(25/09; La Liga)
Rubin Kazan 1-1 Barcelona
(29/09; Champions League)
Barcelona 1-1 RCD Mallorca
(03/10; La Liga)

Sporting Gijon 0-2 Valencia
(25/09; La Liga)
Valencia 0-1 Manchester United (29/09; Champions League)
Valencia 2-1 Athletic Bilbao (02/10; La Liga)

Key absences

Barcelona: Xavi (doubt); Pedro; Gabriel Milito (doubt)

Valencia: Hedwiges Maduro; Ever Banega; Mehmet Topal; Joaquin

Players to watch

Barcelona – Lionel Messi: The world’s best player endured a disappointing international break with Argentina lately, with the Biancoceleste surprisingly going down against Japan. With Valencia showing they are potent in front of goal when they get the chance, the little wizard will need to bounce back from international disappointment and show once again why he is the best at what he does.

Valencia – Juan Mata: David Silva’s exit from Valencia last summer meant that Juan Mata’s role became more and more important as an orchestrator in Los Che’s midfield. The former Real Madrid youth product has very much been on Barcelona’s radar over the past few years, and continues to be coveted at the Camp Nou. Some nifty service to Aritz Aduriz and Soldado will confirm why.

Match prediction

Valencia will be determined to avoid defeat at the Camp Nou, but that is easier said than done. Both sides can score goals and can be expected to find the back of the net during the encounter. Yet it is Barcelona who are capable of raising their game and a suspicion persists that Los Che have yet to meet any side comparable to the champions this season. A win for Barcelona looks likely, but it won’t be routine, and could be as close as 2-1.