New Barcelona head coach Quique Setien is looking to make it two wins from two as he takes his new team to Valencia on Saturday. Los Che have suffered back-to-back defeats and could use a morale-boosting victory here to get their top-four challenge back on track.
Where and when: Mestalla – 25 January, kick-off 15:00
Where you can see Valencia vs. Barcelona: Premier Sports, Bet365 live streaming
Last time: Teenage sensation Ansu Fati opened the scoring for Barcelona inside the first couple of minutes as the Catalans eased to a 5-2 victory over Valencia at the Nou Camp in September, with Luis Suarez also grabbing a brace.
Valencia v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
Barcelona continue their title defence this weekend against a Valencia side who they’ve enjoyed an excellent record against in recent seasons. Los Che last beat Barca in La Liga back in February 2014. That was at the Nou Camp, with the Catalan giants unbeaten at the Mestalla since 2007.
We’ve seen five wins for Barca and seven draws at the ground since then, although Valencia did beat the Blaugrana 2-1 in last season’s Copa del Rey final. That should give the home fans a little bit of optimism heading into this game.
Hosts Valencia are coming into the tough match on the back of a dispiriting 4-1 defeat away to lowly Mallorca at the weekend, meaning Albert Celades’s side have only won one of their last four La Liga fixtures. That leaves Los Che down in seventh and four points behind fourth-placed Sevilla.
While certainly not an insurmountable gap, Sevilla are at home to Granada this weekend in a game that we can expect them to win. Defeat here for Valencia is likely to leave them seven points off the top four, and they’ll be without Dani Parejo due to suspension. Cristiano Piccini is injured, while Rodrigo, Ezequiel Garay and Manu Vallejo are all doubtful too.
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Barcelona to win and BTTS
Valencia to win 2-1
Messi to score first
At least the home team aren’t coming up against the injured Suarez, scorer of a brace against them earlier in the campaign. Ousmane Dembele is also out for the visitors, but talisman Lionel Messi is in fine form at present, having scored the only goal of the game in the victory over Granada on Sunday.
Barca made a positive start to life under their new manager in that match, even if they only saw the net bulge just the once. They enjoyed more than 82% of the possession, while some of Setien’s tactics in pushing Jordi Alba very high up the pitch and tucking Sergi Roberto in as a third centre-back were reminiscent of a certain Pep Guardiola.
The Catalans will be looking to keep the upturn in positivity under their new boss going with a win this weekend, and they are priced at 4/6 to do just that. Valencia are the 17/4 underdogs to claim their first home win against Barca in almost 13 years, while the draw’s available at 7/2.
One to watch for Valencia: With Rodrigo and Dani Parejo both expected to miss out, the onus will be on top scorer Maxi Gomez to come up with the goods on Saturday. He is 17/2 to do just that by netting the opening goal.
One to watch for Barcelona: The brilliance of Lionel Messi helped to paper over the cracks in Ernesto Valverde’s reign towards the end, with his goal last weekend taking the Argentine to 17 goals in his last 17 appearances. He is the 3/1 favourite to break the deadlock.
Long shot: Valencia’s last victory over Barca at the Mestalla came courtesy of a 2-1 success back in February 2007. Los Che are 15/1 to pick up the three points with a repeat of that scoreline this weekend.