Blaugrana just wasted their chance to climb to the top of the table in the midweek due to their shocking result. With only five games left, Barcelona will have to keep on sealing a win and hope their contenders slip again. This weekend comes the tricky part of their race as Lionel Messi and Co will be travelling to Estadio Mestalla, to take on Valencia. The game should be easy on the paper but everything is never easy on the pitch. Los Ches’ main mission left is to avoid from the relegation threat as they are only six points away from the red zone
Both teams’ previous games
Valencia were held in a 1-1 draw while playing host to Alaves last weekend. The Swede John Guidetti scored an opener on the 84th minute. Luckily, they could avoid another loss after Jose Gaya equalised on the 89th minute to secure one point at their home turf.
Barcelona slumped to an unnecessary 1-2 defeat against Granada in the midweek. Despite already leading through Leo Messi’s goal, the blunder at the defence line cost them a concession by Darwin Machis. They eventually blew their chance in the title race as Jorge Molina netted the visitor’s winning goal.
Javier Garcia is still likely to stick to his 4-4-2 formation. Luckily, his squad is relatively fit for this important fixture by only leaving the injured Jasper Cillessen on the sideline. At the front, Maxi Gomez should be featuring as the dynamic duo alongside Goncalo Guedes while Manu Vallejo or Kevin Gameiro could be brought on at the second half. In the midfield, Daniel Wass and Lee Kang-In are operating on both flanks to accompany Carlos Soler and Uros Racic in the middle.
Ronald Koeman is seemingly in need to transform the system back to 4-3-3 to face off the Valencia’s low block defence and relying counter attack plus long cross from either sides. The three-back system might be too shaky. Thus, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet or Ronald Araujo would get a nod at the backline while Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest are playing outwide. In the midfield, Frankie de Jong is accompanied by Pedri and Sergi Roberto to support Messi, Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele upfront.
Players to watch
Los Ches’s anchorman Carlos Soler is certainly one of their key men this season. He has bagged eight goals and five assists. Some other notable figures to watch are el capitano Jose Gaya and the versatile Danish international Daniel Wass.
Messi and Griezmann have been able to find the rhythm as the front duo. They have scored 37 goals and 15 assists combined in La Liga. Another key man to watch is Ousmane Dembele who has bagged five goals and two assists so far.
Valencia vs Barcelona Prediction
This is the last stage of La Liga and Barcelona’s mentality is being tested. They must win on the road without the presence of Ronald Koeman on the side of the pitch since their entrenador was sent off in the previous fixture. It will be down to Messi on how to inspire and motivate them to bounce back instantly. If they fail, Javier Garcia’s men will take advantage of their shaky confidence here for their own sake. The Catalan side might still be able to pick up a narrow win.
Neither side seems to be the clear favourite. Koeman’s side is backed to win at 7/17, whereas Valencia are projected to win at 38/5. The odds for the draw result are the highest, at 9/2.