MX23RW : Sunday, September 22 08:51:47| >> :600:471827:471827:
Sep 14, 2019 at 8pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 81,617
Barcelona
5-2
Valencia
Fati (2'), de Jong (7'), Pique (51'), Suarez (61', 82')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Gameiro (27'), Gomez (92')

Preview: Barcelona vs. Valencia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Valencia, including team news and predicted lineups.

Barcelona will be looking to record just their second La Liga win of the season when they welcome Valencia to Camp Nou on Saturday night.

The Spanish champions are currently eighth in the table on four points, while Valencia, who have just appointed Albert Celades as their new head coach, have the same record after three games.


Barcelona

Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto celebrate during Barcelona's La Liga clash against Real Betis on August 25, 2019© Reuters

It has not exactly been a disastrous start to the season for the Spanish champions, but it would be fair to say that Ernesto Valverde's side have been under-par thus far. Indeed, they are currently eighth in the table having won one, drawn one and lost one of their three games.

Barca started the 2019-20 campaign with a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao, before putting five past Real Betis in a 5-2 home win on August 25. Valverde's team could not make it back-to-back victories last time out, though, as they were held to a 2-2 draw by an impressive Osasuna outfit.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both picked up injuries on the opening night of the campaign and have not been available since, while Lionel Messi is yet to play this season due to a calf problem.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice in the win over Betis at the end of August, although the France international is yet to fully ignite. The injuries in the final third have opened the door for the likes of Carles Perez and 16-year-old Anssumane Fati to impress, though, with the latter coming off the bench to score against Osasuna.

Messi will again miss out against Valencia; Luis Suarez trained on Thursday, though, and should return to the starting XI this weekend in what would be a huge boost to their chances. It is still early in the season, but Barca cannot really afford to drop more points when considering Atletico Madrid's form at the summit.

Atletico are La Liga's only 100% team this season with nine points, while Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Levante make up the top four, with Real Madrid in fifth on five points. It is difficult to get carried away with the table at this stage of the campaign, but Barca could fall eight points off Atletico this weekend.

In terms of what is ahead, Barca will travel to Borussia Dortmund for their first Champions League group match on Tuesday night before visiting Granada in La Liga next weekend. Messi is expected to return for the clash with Dortmund, and the Spanish champions need the Argentine back sooner rather than later.

It is difficult to know what to expect from Valencia this weekend, however, with Los Che surprisingly sacking Marcelino ahead of the match to bring in former Real Madrid assistant Celades, who actually turned out as a player for Barca between 1990 and 1999.

Recent form: LWD


Valencia

Barcelona's Nelson Semedo battles Valencia's Jose Gaya for the ball during the Copa del Rey final on May 25, 2019© Reuters

On Wednesday, it was announced that Valencia had sacked Marcelino as head coach and replaced him with Celades. The 54-year-old led Los Che to last season's Copa del Rey title - their first major trophy for 11 years - but disagreements this term saw the Spaniard lose his job.

There is no question that the change of manager has come as a surprise considering that Marcelino led the club to back-to-back fourth-place finishes. Indeed, after finishing 12th in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, Valencia returned to the Champions League under the management of the former Villarreal boss.

Los Che opened their 2019-20 campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Real Sociedad, before suffering a 1-0 defeat at Celta Vigo on August 24. The former Spanish champions did beat Mallorca 2-0 before the international break, although the result did not prove enough to keep Marcelino in a job.

According to various reports in Spain, disagreements between the head coach, general manager Mateu Alemany and owner Peter Lim saw the change made. A number of Valencia players have since taken to social media to comment on the situation, and the likes of Ezequiel Garay and Dani Parejo have had some strong words.

The team cannot afford to dwell on the situation, though, as they face Barca this weekend before travelling to Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday night - two huge fixtures for the club.

Both of the league meetings between the two teams last season finished level, while, as mentioned, Valencia beat Barca in the Copa del Rey final at the end of May. Despite a turbulent start to the season, there is no question that the visitors can cause some serious damage at Camp Nou on Saturday night.

Barca, who have made their worst start to a campaign since 2008, are expected to welcome Luis Suarez back into the XI, but Messi's absence is a big one considering that the Argentine has scored his team's last four goals against Valencia. Osasuna and Bilbao have shown the way in terms of harming Valverde's side this term, and Los Che will be looking to do the same as they enter a new era.

Recent form: DLW


Team News

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts as Valencia score their second in the Copa del Rey final on May 25, 2019© Reuters

As mentioned, Messi will again miss out for Barca due to a calf problem. Luis Suarez is fit after recovering from a calf injury of his own, though, and should start in the final third of the field.

Dembele and Samuel Umtiti are out with hamstring and foot problems respectively, but Valverde otherwise has a strong squad to choose from.

Perez scored against Betis at Camp Nou last time out before providing both assists against Osasuna ahead the international break, suggesting that the youngster could keep his spot in the final third.

Ivan Rakitic could also come into the XI having remained at the club despite the widespread speculation surrounding his future. Arthur and Arturo Vidal are also options in that area of the field, though, with Valverde having a whole host of central midfielders to choose from.

There are not expected to be any alterations further back, though, with right-back Nelson Semedo available despite concerns over his fitness earlier in the week.

As for Valencia, it would be a surprise if Celades made major changes from the team that started the 2-0 win over Mallorca before the international break.

As a result, Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno should again start in the final third of the field, leaving summer arrival Maxi Gomez on the bench.

Dani Parejo will captain the team from the middle of the park, while former Arsenal youngster Francis Coquelin should also retain his spot. Carlos Soler and Cristiano Piccini are both still on the sidelines for Los Che, though.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Rakitic; Perez, L Suarez, Griezmann

Valencia possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Wass, Garay, Diakhaby, Gaya; Guedes, Coquelin, Parejo, Torres; Moreno, Gameiro


Head To Head

As mentioned, Valencia beat Barca 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final at the end of last season.

The two teams played out two draws in La Liga during the 2018-19 campaign, meanwhile, with a 2-2 at Camp Nou following a 1-1 at the Mestalla earlier in the season.

Valencia's last La Liga win at Camp Nou was back in April 2016, but Barca have been victorious in two of the last three league meetings on home soil - including a 4-2 success in March 2017.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Barcelona 2-1 Valencia

Saturday night's clash promises to be a fascinating affair due to the number of side stories heading into the contest. It would not be a surprise to see Valencia pick up a positive result, but with Luis Suarez set to return, we fancy the champions to record an important win by the narrowest of margins.


body check tags ::

Who will win Saturday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Valencia?

Barcelona
Draw
Valencia
Barcelona
0.0%
Draw
0.0%
Valencia
0.0%
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Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts as Valencia score their second in the Copa del Rey final on May 25, 2019
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